Trip notes from Diyarbakır
I have not visited the southeastern Diyarbakır province after the administration of the Diyarbakır Municipality was handed over to a government-appointed trustee. As I traveled from the airport to the city, I was impressed by how clean the city was, as well as the buildings and the roads. It was the same in the city center. Apparently, the municipality administration under the trustee is working hard to meet the fundamental needs of the city.
I went to the Demir Hotel to attend an event with the Felicity Party’s (SP) leader and presidential candidate Temel Karamollaoğlu organized by the Dicle Social Research Center (DİTAM).
DİTAM chair Mehmet Vural and Sedat Yurttaş, who is one of the most knowledgeable people and acts with common sense on issues related to the Kurdish problem, welcomed the guests. Representatives of the NGOs in the region as well as local NGOs were among the attendees. Before Karamollaoğlu started to deliver his speech, I spoke with NGO representatives.
Will the HDP clear the electoral threshold?
While people in Ankara and Istanbul widely believe “the Peoples’ Democratic Party [HDP] will pass the electoral threshold to gain representation in parliament,” what I have mostly heard from people here in Diyarbakır was “if” the HDP passes the threshold. I talked about the mood in the western cities and asked the NGO representatives why they used the expression “if” the HDP passes. Here are their responses:
They fear preparations regarding the elections, particularly the relocation of voters, may have a negative impact on the HDP.
They think even if the HDP does well in the elections in the region, strong local support may not be enough to help the party enter parliament. Thus, they argue that the votes cast for the HDP in the western part of the country will be decisive. However, they are anxious because they do not know much about the mood in the western cities.
SP’s report welcomed
At the DİTAM event, Temel Karamollaoğlu unveiled his party’s report on the Kurdish issue for the first time. He talked about his party’s diagnosis regarding the issue and proposed solutions. He bluntly called it the “Kurdish problem.” Karamollaoğlu said “Turks are Turks and Kurds are Kurds.” He called the Uludere incident a “massacre.” He criticized past “assimilation” attempts. He appeared warm to the idea of “education in their mother tongue” and he did not refrain from using the term “Kurdistan” as a geographical space.
The NGO representatives welcomed all those remarks made by him. The SP leader underlined the social, cultural and economic measures to resolve the issue and stressed “peace inside the country.” He called on the leaders to use constructive language and promised to use the most inclusive consultation methods with the related parties.
AKP’s problems with candidates list
After the DİTAM meeting, I visited the locals together with Ferit Aslan, a Doğan News Agency representative. Here is what I have gathered from my conversations with the people on the street:
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) prepared its list of candidates for the parliamentary election, assuming that the HDP would fail to pass the 10 percent threshold. People who did not make it to the lists and found a place with little chance of getting elected did not hide their resentment. People were disappointed that no one from the Ensarioğlu family was on the AKP’s list of candidates.
One last note from the Diyarbakır trip: The presidential candidate from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Muharrem İnce has apparently managed to gain some sympathy and has changed his image from “nationalist” in the eyes of the local people. A number of people said they were expecting “to see İnce in Diyarbakır.”