Sırrı Süreyya Önder, the Green Left Party’s top candidate for Istanbul’s first electoral district, addressed the controversial remarks of Bekir Bozdağ, the Justice Minister in the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Thursday, who said “those who celebrate on the evening of 14 May will either celebrate with champagne or by prostrating themselves in gratitude.”
Önder responded to questions from Mirgün Cabas, Özlem Akarsu Çelik and Kemal Can during a recent episode of the “Ya Sonra” programme on GAİN’s YouTube channel.
“We will say ‘Bon appetit’ to those who drink champagne and ‘May Allah accept it’ to those who prostrate themselves in gratitude,” Önder retorted, “Everyone has the right to celebrate as they wish.” Emphasising how it is “unpleasant to dictate a way of life by interfering so much in people’s lives and making it a tool of fear or encouragement,” he explained that the AKP does not realise that this kind of interference “won’t work in this century. I mean, people are building dairy farms in space now.”
Önder also commented on Bozdağ’s second statement, “If you were going somewhere, would you entrust your family to Kılıçdaroğlu or to Tayyip Bey?”
“I would definitely not entrust my family to someone with such a mindset, as not even a piece of rubbish can be entrusted to them,” he responded. “How can he think like this? How does this idea even occur to him? What does he mean by entrust? Who is the guardian? Why a guardian? Where does he get the idea that someone would betray them? How shameful! … This is not a statement that comes out of the mouth easily … Let me end it by saying that may God reform him.”
“This regime will go because the desire and will for change and transformation are now very visible,” Önder said. “The year following the election will be the most important time period that will determine what will be put in place of this regime, how it will be done and in what way, and will determine the next 100 years. The way and method of doing things will also be of the same importance.”
He also listed the most crucial steps following a potential victory of the opposition: “In the next year, within the first hour after the election, all obstacles to freedom of expression – legal or otherwise – should be removed, and the independence of judiciary and the effective use of fundamental rights and freedoms should be addressed together … The more it is shared with the widest segments of society, the more lasting it will be. I believe that all political cadres and tendencies that have not committed hate crimes or similar tortures should be included in these discussions. I think this will serve a sustainable and problem-free process.”
According to Önder, the decision of the Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) to run separate candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections was not a major issue for the parties.
Önder expressed regret that they could not run on a single list, saying “It might lead to the loss of a few seats. I hope it doesn’t result in a more disastrous outcome. In any case, we will rely on our voters.”
Explaining the origins of the slogan ‘We won’t let you become president,’ Önder said: “Some criticised it, thinking that the solution process had ended because of this statement. However … what really ended the process was our decision to enter the election not as independent candidates, but as a party. Because it caused them to lose a lot, we caused them to lose big with this slogan, reaching up to 14%. This is the background of the slogan.”