According to political analysts, Kurdish votes will be critical in Turkey’s upcoming elections on 14 May. The People’s Democratic Party (HDP), has declared its support to Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, candidate of the six-party Nation Alliance and the leader of the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP), and has fielded its parliamentary candidates under the label of Green Left Party, a member of the left-wing Labour and Freedom Alliance. Since the start of the campaign period, the Kurdish issue has dominated the political scene, with the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) – far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) alliance accusing the opposition of surrendering to the demands of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Medya News discussed the political environment in Turkey, possible results of the 14 May polls in Turkey and beyond, and the importance of elections for Kurdish people and their struggle for their rights and freedoms with Roni Serdem, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organisation of Kurdish groups including the PKK.
– For weeks, KCK officials have been calling on the people to vote for the opposition to overthrow the AKP-MHP government on 14 May. Can you tell us the reasons why the Kurds should vote for the opposition in the presidential race?
Roni Serdem: As you know, Turkey has been living under Erdoğan’s fascism for 21 years. This fascism has not solved the problems in Turkey but only aggravated and deepened existing ones. Therefore, the problems of Turkey’s society, especially the issue of the freedom of the Kurdish people, have reached a state where they seem unsolvable.
We believe that Turkey must get rid of the fascist AKP-MHP regime for the sake of the freedom of our people. Therefore, we believe that the most democratic option in Turkey is the Labour and Freedom Alliance. It is wrong to refer to all forces against AKP-MHP as democratic opposition. Kemalist, nationalist and religious groups and parties that even go beyond Erdoğan when it comes to fascism also define themselves this way. Therefore, it is best to look at the Labour and Freedom Alliance as the main front for democracy and freedom.
– Erdoğan attacks the opposition over ties with the HDP and the PKK. He says Kılıçdaroğlu takes orders from Qandil. Some opposition figures say statements from KCK executives in support of their election bid does not help at all. Some journalists believe such statements indicate an implicit support for the Erdoğan government. What is your opinion about such claims and debates?
Roni Serdem: We are a freedom movement that represents the most refined democratic and freedom values of our time. We are currently going against a fascist regime that the whole world sees as a scourge. Our struggle is not a struggle that began recently. Those who have served this fascist regime and the anti-Kurdish state for years now act as if they have just discovered the evilness of this system in the person of Erdoğan. We are waging the most strategic struggle to stop Erdoğan and the AKP-MHP regime.
Our people have never changed their attitude against this fascist regime. Tens of thousands of our patriots have been arrested, our children have been executed in the streets, our people have been dropped from helicopters, torture has become a daily activity of the Erdoğan regime. But our movement and our people never backed down even a single millimetre against this fascist regime and did not kneel down. The ‘Annihilation Plan’, which aimed for complete surrender, has now turned against Erdoğan. The Kurdish people and Turkish society have brought the genocidal fascist Erdoğan regime to the point of collapse.
We were not bestowed by anyone our right to speak, we earned this right through the price we have paid. In the struggle for freedom that we have developed in a common spirit with our people, there will be no hesitation in expressing our views and opinions.
In Turkey, where the 14 May elections will be held, we have tens of millions of our people, sympathisers and friends. Shoulder to shoulder, we are waging a common struggle for democracy, freedom, women’s liberation, ecology and many other areas. Therefore, it is a vital necessity for us to do politics as part of our struggle. As a movement, we cannot refrain from expressing our ideas and stance no matter what anyone thinks. Our people expect this from us.
The fact that our statements are being used by Erdoğan is a weakness of the Nation Alliance. It is normal for the opposition, which does not have a solution perspective for the Kurdish problem, to be battered by Erdoğan. He knows that the Nation Alliance’s weak spot is the Kurds. As a movement that has been fighting this fascist regime relentlessly, it is not realistic for them to expect us to keep quiet. Rather, the Nation Alliance should talk about the Kurds and the solution of the Kurdish question, and clarify how it will establish a dialogue with the Kurds, different from Erdoğan and his genocide policy. Otherwise they would simply be ignoring Turkey’s most serious problem. This would just lead the Nation Alliance to meet the fate of Erdoğan.
– Do you think the opposition candidate Kılıçdaroğlu and the parties in the Nation Alliance act in a way that gives hope for the solution of the conflict inside Turkey? What do you think about the nationalist messages given by Meral Akşener, the leader of the centre-right Good Party, and Mansur Yavaş, Ankara’s CHP mayor with nationalist roots, or about Kılıçdaroğlu’s silence -other than when he admitted that the ECHR’s decision should be applied regarding the release of former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş?
Roni Serdem: The Kurdish question is Turkey’s most historical, deep-rooted and intractable problem. The fascist Erdoğan regime has deepened this situation even more. Every politician and party that aims for freedom and democracy in Turkey must have a program and undertake efforts to solve the Kurdish question.
Kılıçdaroğlu and the Nation Alliance do not lead any serious discussions on how to approach a resolution for the current conflict. Their most advanced discourse is that the place to solve the Kurdish question is the parliament. While this is a general truth, it does not include a program that puts forward a solution to the Kurdish question on the basis of freedom and democracy.
Any government or power that ignores the Kurdish question like Erdoğan, ignores the democratic rights of the Kurdish people, and uses terrorism against their struggle for freedom cannot avoid descending into fascism and decay. As a movement, our main goal is the overthrow of the Erdoğan regime, which has persecuted the Kurdish people and the society in Turkey, and committed grave crimes.
– What are your thoughts about speculations that meetings between PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and the current government allegedly took place in İmralı prison ahead of the elections?
Roni Serdem: We also learned about these claims through the press. But the AKP-MHP regime needs the support of the Leader Apo (Abdullah Öcalan) to win the elections. Without the support of Leader Apo, it is not possible for any power to take steps in favour of democracy and freedom in Turkey.
The policy carried out over Leader Apo reveals the stance of the Turkish state on the Kurdish issue. The claims that have emerged so far are not based on any concrete evidence.
We know that despite all the fascist oppression of the AKP-MHP regime, Leader Apo has put up a glorious resistance on the prison island İmralı. It is Leader Apo’s stance and resistance that has elevated the struggle for a democratic Turkey and a free Kurdistan the most. This is a resistance against the expectations of fascism and its desire to maintain power. The main goal of this resistance is to achieve the democracy and freedom that society longs for.
– The KCK declared a period of inaction inside Turkey following the February 6 earthquakes. Will you extend this period if the opposition achieves victory on 14 May?
Roni Serdem: This is not the first time our movement has declared a decision of halting all attacks. Our struggle has the aim of living democratically and freely. Different methods are used from time to time to achieve this goal. But this decision of halting all attacks was taken when we saw the consequences of the 6 February earthquake and the massacre caused by the Erdoğan regime afterwards.
When we saw the Erdoğan regime’s approach to the earthquake region and our people, we wanted to limit the heavy effects of this. We wanted our people to be able to heal their wounds. The earthquake phase, which turned into a phase of mass murder due to the AKP-MHP policy, continued with the concept of extermination against our forces using banned weapons, despite all our good intentions.
Despite this, our forces tried and are still trying to maintain their position of halting all attacks. Erdoğan needs provocation and funerals of police or soldiers more than ever. Without these, he cannot mobilise his fascist supporters, he cannot drag the opposition to a nationalist-fascist rhetoric.
We have extended our decision of halting all attacks based on great sacrifices in order to eliminate this ground for provocations. Undoubtedly, our movement will re-evaluate its decision after the elections.
The termination or extension of the decision to halt all attacks will be clarified by the level of the Turkish state’s attacks against our people and society and its approach to a possible solution. Against all provocations, our movement has the approach to preserve the attitude and position of halting all attacks that we declared until the 14 May elections.