Istanbul: Tens of thousands of people joined the first rally of Turkey’s left-wing Labour and Freedom Alliance, led by the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), as part of its electoral campaign.
Under the banner of “Say No to Poverty, War and Oppression!” the leaders and spokespeople of the parties in the alliance condemned the worsening economic conditions in Turkey, the government’s war policies and cross-border operations, and the growing crackdown on opposition parties and organisations that were intensifying with the approach of the elections.
HDP Co-Chair Pervin Buldan said: “We are here to say: Stop the plunder of nature, of life, of the law. We are here to stand against the AKP-MHP* regime, which is trying to make beautiful Istanbul, the city of democracy, into the centre of darkness.”
“We will establish the strongest alliance of peace against war,” said HDP Co-Chair Mithat Sancar, noting that every cross-border military operation made the people of Turkey poorer.
Social Freedom Party Spokesperson Juliana Gözen responded angrily to the HDP closure case, while Socialist Assemblies Federation (SMF) Spokesperson Barış Kayaoğlu said that the ruling government “stigmatises” and marginalises all different political approaches.
The imprisoned former HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş had, through his lawyers, put a call out via Twitter for the rally on Sunday, saying, “Let’s meet there, I have surprises”.
Demirtaş had written a song, and recorded the lead voice himself on his telephone while in prison, and this was played at the rally to great acclaim, accompanied by the choir of the Dicle Firat Cultural Centre.
After the rally, the police blockaded the crowd who were chanting slogans as they left the area, and detained several people.
The Labour and Freedom Alliance (LFA), the third electoral alliance in the country, was formed in August 2022 by six left-wing and socialist political parties – the Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP), the Labour Party (EMEP), the Labourer’s Movement Party (EHP), the Social Freedom Party (TÖP), the Federation of Socialist Councils (SMF) and the HDP.
Turkey’s upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections will be held in June 2023 at the latest.
The HDP had been expected by many to back the main opposition’s Nation Alliance in the run for president, but the LFA recently announced that it intends to put up its own candidate. However, the Nation Alliance, led by the Republican People’s Party (CHP), needs the support of Kurdish voters if it is to have any hope of winning presidential elections against the incumbent president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who will stand for his government’s People’s Alliance.
* The ruling coalition of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its far-right ally the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).