Selahattin Demirtaş, the jailed co-chair of the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has called on all voters in Turkey to go to the ballot boxes and to “beat fear” in the April 16 referendum on whether to shift to an executive presidential system.
“I’m inviting everyone to go to the ballot boxes, beating fear and voting ‘no’ to fear. Bravery is contagious,” read a message sent by Demirtaş to his party from the prison where he is kept in the western province of Edirne on April 4.
Turkey will hold a referendum on April 16 to decide whether to change from the current parliamentary system to an executive presidency with vastly enhanced powers for the president.
The “yes” vote is endorsed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the leadership of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), while the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the HDP are campaigning for a “no” vote.
Demirtaş also called on the people to “spread bravery,” regardless the party they support.
“Let’s spread bravery without considering whether one is a Kurd, Turk, Alevi, Sunni
or AKP, CHP, MHP or HDP supporter. Be sure that goodness will win. We all will win,” he said.
Saying that “Turkey is going through historical days,” Demirtaş noted that “the main base for the government is to create fear and make everyone feel it.”
“It’s a very human emotion to be afraid from the government in times like these. But don’t forget that bravery is also a human emotion. The only way to not leave fear as a legacy to our children is to act with bravery,” he said.
A total of 13 lawmakers from the HDP, including its co-chairs Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, face hundreds of years in jail over alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party
In his letter, Demirtaş also criticized the judges for arresting HDP deputies.
“It’s cowardice and helplessness to arrest us on the orders of the government in an illegal, pirate-like way. Everyone should be sure that we will hold them to account in front of a fair judiciary,” he said.