Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) now effectively controls the government, with regional and global implications, the jailed former co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş said on Thursday.
Claiming a shift in state dynamics following the HDP’s success in the 2015 elections, Demirtaş accused the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and MHP alliance of obstructing potential peace efforts in the country.
Demirtaş’s remarks came during his defence at Thursday’s hearing of the Kobani trial, in which 108 members of the pro-Kurdish HDP are on trial.
The high-profile trial stems from the October 2014 protests that erupted over the Turkish government’s perceived inaction during the Islamic State (ISIS) siege of the Syrian town of Kobani (Kobanê). The prosecution is seeking aggravated life sentences for the defendants for their alleged role in the protests, which many see as a political move to suppress the HDP and the wider Kurdish political movement in Turkey.
During his defence on Thursday, Demirtaş linked the trial to wider political manoeuvres, claiming that it was in fact a state operation orchestrated by the government. Highlighting the political impact of the HDP at the time, he said: “The HDP achieved what no one else could. Our line had an impact not only in Turkey but also in the quest for freedom in the Middle East.
He discussed the role of the MHP in the current political landscape and argued that the far-right party, once a complementary force, had become a dominant player within the state apparatus.
Demirtaş went on to call for opposition unity against what he perceives as a systematic effort to establish a new racist regime. He criticised the lack of cooperation between opposition parties and stressed the need for transparency and self-criticism within the political sphere.