HDP’s Demirtaş calls on people to keep an eye on ballot boxes for security
AA PhotoTurkish citizens should not only vote, but also be vigilant over election security in next month’s first ever direct presidential election, the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) candidate has said.
“There is a need to visit each district [to monitor]. We shall claim the ballot boxes,” said HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş on July 10, speaking to a gathering of volunteers who will work for his election campaign in Istanbul.
“If we do not want ‘the minister for cats’ to be elected, then we will claim the votes of the people everywhere,” Demirtaş added sarcastically, in a veiled reference to Energy Minister Taner Yıldız. Amid claims of fraud in the March local election, Yıldız said a cat was responsible for power outages during vote counting in a number of provinces.
“I am not joking, friends. A cat walked into a transformer unit. That’s why there was a power cut. It’s not the first time this has happened,” he had said.
Demirtaş also touched on the state broadcaster TRT’s “one-sided” coverage of the presidential elections, saying opposition candidates were being ignored while fellow-candidate Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s rallies and statements were always broadcast live and uninterrupted.
“We know TRT’s discriminative stance. You already know what kind of channel TRT has turned into even by not watching it. There is no need for you to watch it either. When you watch TRT, you may encounter unpleasant images, such as a man frightening your children by shouting,” he said, in apparent reference to Erdoğan’s aggressive style of addressing people.
“We will get our voice heard through our own opportunities. Much work falls on shoulders of the youngsters. It is time for the use of social media in the most effective way. You will do that and leave the rest to us,” Demirtaş added.
Social media networks played a major role in last year’s nationwide anti-government Gezi Park protests, prompting Prime Minister Erdoğan to label Twitter a “menace” for being used in a “coordinated effort to topple his government.”
Demirtaş began his Istanbul meeting with a speech paying tribute to Gezi protester Ali İsmail Korkmaz on the first anniversary of his death after being beaten by plainclothes police, and to late Kurdish politician Vedat Aydın, who was murdered in Diyarbakır in 1991, allegedly by JİTEM, an alleged clandestine intelligence unit within the gendarmerie whose existence has never been confirmed by the military.
Meanwhile, independent deputy Leyla Zana and HDP deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder were at İmralı Island prison in the Marmara Sea on July 10 to visit the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, who has been serving a life sentence there since he was captured in 1999.
Öcalan has been in dialogue with both state officials and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), and later also with its sister party, the HDP, at least since late 2012, as part of the peace process intended to end the three-decade-long conflict between Turkey’s security forces and the PKK in order to pave the way for a peaceful resolution to the Kurdish issue.
A bill that is currently being debated at Parliament that gives the government’s peace process with the PKK a legal framework was expected to be key item during the meeting on İmralı.
In response to reporters’ questions, Demirtaş confirmed that the bill was likely to dominate the İmralı meeting, but declined to comment further on the probable content of the meeting.
“Our friends have been conducting their own work. I’m more involved with this hectic campaign. I don’t have a full command of the agenda,” he said, while also noting that he was not likely to visit Öcalan during the electioneering process.