HDP’s Demirtaş: Call me ‘Kurdish Obama’ not ‘Kurdish Trump’
Selahattin Demirtaş, the presidential candidate of the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), prefers to be called the “Kurdish Obama” rather than the “Kurdish Trump,” according to a recent interview.
UAE-based English-language publication The National published on May 27 an interview with Demirtaş, who is under arrest in a high-security prison in the western Turkish province of Edirne.
“His charismatic appeal has led to him being dubbed the ‘Kurdish Obama’ in the Western media – a tag he joked was ‘better than being called the Kurdish Trump,’” The National wrote.
In his answers to the written questions of The National, Demirtaş described Turkey as a “semi-open prison” and claimed that his incarceration called the election result into question.
“I am going to ask one question: Whoever wins, will she or he be able to sit in that chair with peace of mind? Because while this race continues, every single day I remain in prison will cast a shadow on the legitimacy of the elections and therefore over the candidate who is chosen in the end,” he was quoted as saying.
Demirtaş had filed an appeal with the Constitutional Court against his continued arrest, Doğan News Agency reported on May 29, after his appeals for release were rejected by lower courts on May 21 and May 24.
Demirtaş has been in jail for a year-and-a-half on a variety of charges in a number of cases, faces a jail sentence of up to 142 years if convicted. He was nominated by the HDP as its presidential candidate earlier this month and is running for the presidency from his prison cell.
A former human rights lawyer, Demirtaş is one of Turkey’s best-known politicians, winning votes beyond his core Kurdish constituency in the 2015 elections. Prosecutors charge that he and hundreds of other detained HDP members are tied to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The HDP is the second-largest opposition party in the Turkish Parliament.
Another of the party’s former co-chairs, Figen Yüksekdağ, is also arrested on charges of “making terrorist propaganda” and “being a member of a terrorist organization.”