İmprisoned former co-chair of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş replied to the questions of journalist Ferit Aslan from prison.
Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made a statement on your case and that of Osman Kavala at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), and said of the respective decisions, ‘We do not recognise them. It’s that simple. They are void in our respect.’ What’s your comment?
Since Erdoğan is trying to build his regime on a disregard of the constitution and the law, there’s nothing strange about his approach. A single man has replaced the law in this grotesque system. The architecture and processes of the system are proportionate to the power that this single man possesses. Erdoğan feels the need to remind everyone that his personal system is working with a display of power at every possible opportunity. The rule of law cannot co-exist with the Erdoğan regime. If we have one, we can’t have the other at the same time. However, this system is not sustainable in Turkey’s current conditions. It has already collapsed, and has started to come unravelled. Some believe that Erdoğan is acting with cunning and in accordance with a plan. This is definitely not the case. He is only trying to save the day, moving without a strategy, driven by rage and panic. He’s aware that he’ll not be able to get the situation under control. He’s following a policy in which he might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. For such a policy, he needs neither wit nor a rational mind. For this reason, he’s able to apply this ‘as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb’ policy with “success”.
What’s behind Erdoğan’s stance regarding your case and the case of Osman Kavala? Do you think it would still be the same if you’d had foreign passports?
As I’ve said before, Erdoğan needs me and the esteemed Osman Kavala to stay in prison as a display of strength, so that he can give the impression that he’s politically powerful. He aims by this to keep both oppositions, the Kurdish and Turkish, under pressure. He’s also sending threatening messages to all the state mechanisms first and foremost the judicial bureaucracy, by the use of symbolic cases. Then we have to add on top of all this his own personal anger, spite and vengefulness against us. On the basis that pastor Brunson, Deniz Yücel and the Israeli couple were released on Erdoğan’s direct instructions, then yes, one of the reasons we’re still in prison is that we are citizens of the Turkish Republic. Fortunately we have the people to rely on. The power of the people is greater than the tweets of Trump or any other US president. We will witness this, all together.
President Erdoğan called on you, saying, ‘Why don’t you try organising your own rally instead of urging the opposition to organise a united one?’ How would you comment on that?
We have to ask him if he knows what he’s talking about. I guess he must sometimes forget that I’m in prison on his instructions. Maybe he’s suffering from temporary memory loss, or maybe he thinks I’m not in prison after all because I keep on doing political work from prison. God grant him health of mind. What else can I say? besides, I have already answered him on Twitter. He still hasn’t responded.
Do you think Erdoğan has given up on the Kurdish electorate? While everyone agrees that the HDP and the Kurdish voters are in a key political position, why does the adminstration insist on its current policy?
Actually it’s not my concern at all what Erdoğan will or won’t do. We’re concerned with what we’re going to do. And I don’t believe the Kurds care a whit what Erdoğan is going to say or do either. His practices in recent years are more than enough to make an assessment of him. Do they expect the Kurds to be sympathetic towards the AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) after all the cruelties, oppression, threats, insults, trustees’ appointments, operations, arrests? Even answering this is unpleasant for me, and it is degrading to the Kurds.
It’s over. There is no going back, no possible apology or compensation for all of this. The Kurds cannot move on without holding them accountable politically for all these things. Change has started in Turkey. Both the HDP and the Kurds are vanguards, and a part of this change. Everyone needs to stop thinking and acting politically in accordance with old habits and patterns. We have a new era ahead of us and we need to adopt a proactive political stance from which everyone will benefit. We’ve got to leave behind the language of complaint, the language of the victim, the language of crying for help, and start acting with the self-confidence and mission of a founding power. There is no AKP/MHP in Turkey’s future. They are finished. Now is the time for the widest possible unity of democratic powers in order to build the new system.