Kurds who previously voted for AKP will vote ‘no’ in referendum: Jailed HDP co-chair

Kurds who previously voted for AKP will vote ‘no’ in referendum: Jailed HDP co-chair

EDİRNE/ANKARA
Kurds who previously voted for AKP will vote ‘no’ in referendum: Jailed HDP co-chair

A significant proportion of the Kurds who previously voted for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will vote “no” in the April 16 referendum on constitutional changes, the jailed co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has said.

“The hardline policies of the AKP and the suspension of democracy, human rights and rule of law have been rebuffed by Kurds as they distance themselves from the AKP,” HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş told Foreign Policy in an article published on April 13, responding to written questions through his lawyers from the jail where he is held in the northwestern province of Edirne. 

He also said President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan “will struggle to recapture Kurdish votes after the failure of peace negotiations and the ensuing crackdown.” 

Demirtaş, who was arrested on Nov. 4, 2016, was quoted in the Foreign Policy he is “absolutely” certain that his arrest was designed to cripple opposition to the constitutional changes. 

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 (PKK).

“We have been held unlawfully for five months, and we still don’t know when our prosecution will begin. We are confronted not with a judicial process but extrajudicial enforcement,” Demirtaş stated.

“Despite all that has happened, we are not asking for mercy or forgiveness from anyone, because we committed no crime. We are being held here because a crime is being committed against us. Sooner or later, those who stand for peace and democracy will win,” he added.

Turkey will hold a referendum on April 16 to decide whether to change the government system into an executive presidency with vastly enhanced powers for the president or to protect the current parliamentary system.

Meanwhile, HDP Istanbul lawmaker Hüda Kaya has said “justice and rights for the people can never emerge from palaces and cannot do so.”

“A nation cannot be ruled by the decisions of one person. One person cannot be a president, prime minister, commander-in-chief and chief justice at the same time,” Kaya said in a campaign spot on state broadcaster TRT.