Turkey’s first Roma and Yazidi representatives to enter parliament

Turkey’s first Roma and Yazidi representatives to enter parliament

İZMİR – Doğan News Agency
Turkey’s first Roma and Yazidi representatives to enter parliament

DHA Photo

Turkey’s Roma and Yazidi populations will be represented in parliament for the first time, as main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Roma candidate Özcan Purçu and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Yazidi candidates Feleknas Uca and Ali Atalan all secured seats in the June 7 elections. 

Speaking to the press, Purçu underlined his party’s votes increased threefold in İzmir’s Roma neighborhoods, but expressed resentment over the nationwide results. 

“To us, the outcome of the elections is bittersweet. We were expecting to get over thirty percent of the votes,” Purçu said, while adding how proud he was to become Turkey’s first Roma deputy.  

Purçu was nominated in the 2011 general elections as well, but he could not get elected as he was CHP’s eleventh candidate in the second district. 

In an interview on May 6, Purçu pledged to solve the “five major problems” of the Roma community: Education, unemployment, accommodation, discrimination and prejudice. 

Bearing his pledge in mind, Purçu stated on June 7 that his first task as deputy will be to work to improve education in Roma neighborhoods, initially by opening study centers.

Meanwhile, Uca, the HDP’s fourth candidate from the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, also won a seat, becoming one of the first two Yazidi deputies to enter the Turkish parliament.

The 39-year-old German-born politician has twice faced probes in Turkey, in 2005 and 2012. 

In 2005, the police launched an investigation as Uca called on Turkey to decrease the ten percent threshold and declare an amnesty – in Kurdish. In 2012, she was detained at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport for carrying a large number of B-1 vitamins, allegedly for Kurdish hunger striker inmates. 

The HDP’s other Yazidi candidate, Atalay, is also a former German politician and had previously presided over the European federation of Yazidi associations.   

Atalan was the HDP’s first candidate in the southeastern province of Batman.