It’s our right to vote ‘no’ in referendum: HDP

It’s our right to vote ‘no’ in referendum: HDP

It’s our right to vote ‘no’ in referendum: HDP

DHA photo

The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has stressed that it the right to vote “no” in the upcoming referendum, which will decide whether Turkey’s current parliamentary system should be shifted to an executive presidency.

“As members of a party whose right to vote and speak has been seized, we have the right to say ‘no’ to the constitutional amendment package as stronglu as possible,” HDP Deputy Group Chair İdris Baluken said at the parliamentary meeting of his party on Feb. 7, adding that its opponents are “trying to blur the stance of the HDP.”

“Our people know what this vote means very well. No one should be worried. Each and every vote that will be cast will be a vote on measures like curfews, blockades and the destruction of cities,” Baluken added, referring to operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), clashes between the security forces and the PKK, and sweeping curfews imposed by the authorities in a number of towns. 

Speaking for the first time after being released on Jan. 30, Baluken said due to the “continuation of lawlessness” he was obliged to speak at the meeting instead of the party’s co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, who have been under arrest since Nov. 4, 2016. 

Since the arrests of the party’s co-chairs, HDP deputy Ayhan Bilgen had been speaking at the party’s weekly group meetings, but Bilgen was arrested on Jan. 31, prompting Baluken to speak instead of him. 

A total of 12 HDP lawmakers are currently in jail. 

Saying that the legitimacy of any referendum conducted in such conditions will be “controversial,” Baluken stressed that Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ should be freed to return to their duties and carry out their campaigns just like other parties.  

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

The “yes” vote is endorsed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).