17th June: Selahattin Demirtaş, jailed presidential candidate for the Kurdish-backed Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), made his presidential campaign speech on the state broadcaster
“While the AKP gallivants in their palaces, mansions, and villas in luxury, millions of our citizens have become desperate even for bread. The politics of war that bless death inside and outside the country for the sake of their political interests are carried on at the expense of our children’s lives.” Selahattin Demirtaş
17th June: Selahattin Demirtaş, jailed presidential candidate for the Kurdish-backed Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), made his presidential campaign speech on the state broadcaster TRT.
The speech was made from prison, (“a first in Turkey and the world’s political history” Hurriyet) – where he has been held for the last 20 months – as last week Turkey’s Constitutional Court turned down Demirtaş’ application to be released from Edirne Prison in order to campaign.
On November 4, 2016, he was arrested along with Party co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ and other HDP deputies, accused of links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and now faces the 142 year sentence on “terrorist” charges Turkish prosecutors announced they were seeking in January, 2017.
Demirtaş has denounced the current AKP “repressive regime” in Turkey and earlier had told Reuters:
“Demonstrations are banned, talking is banned, criticizing the government is banned, even defending peace is considered terror propaganda…Hundreds of opposition journalists are arrested, dozens of TV and radio channels are closed.
It is impossible for there to be fair elections in such an environment…”
Despite earlier contacts during the important PKK-Ankara peace (“Solution” “Solution”) process, Erdoğan continues to attack Demirtaş, calling him a “terrorist” last year in Hamburg and recently applauding the suggestion that he be hanged: (“As Erdoğan spoke, the crowd chanted “death penalty”, in response to which he said; “If the Parliament happened to submit such a decision to me, I would approve it instantly.” ANF News Desk
Demirtaş however, responded to Erdoğan from prison on Twitter through his lawyers, saying:
“Erdoğan says that he will have me executed should he get elected. Do you see what a presidential candidate promises to the people in the Turkey of 2018? I would sacrifice my life a thousand times for our people and take no step back.” (“Erdoğan seçilirse beni idam ettireceğini söylüyor. 2018 Türkiye’sinde bir Cumhurbaşkanı adayının seçmene vaadine bakar mısınız? Ben canımı, halkımızın uğruna bin defa kurban ederim. Tek bir adım da geri atmam.” — Selahattin Demirtaş (@hdpdemirtas) June 11, 2018)
The election is now less than a week away – June 24, (both presidential and parliamentary elections).
Fear is, if Turkish President and Chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi wins, his power will be further consolidated along with the ongoing deterioration in democratic and human rights standards in Turkey.
“HDP’s Presidential Candidate Selahattin Demirtaş stated that on June 24, the winner will be either democracy or the one-man regime.” ANF News Desk
Demirtaş’ election speech was aired on Sunday (June 17) on the TRT News channel (TRT is the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation, the national public broadcaster of Turkey).
Demirtaş’ TV speech from prison (Translated by ANF News Desk)
“Dear brothers and sisters, the beautiful people of my country,
I greet you with my warmest feelings, love and longing. In this election campaign, one that will be called a disgrace in terms of our political history, I am unfortunately forced to address you from Edirne F Type High Security Prison.
On 4 November 2016, I and my twelve deputy friends were put in jail in disregard of the law. I’ve been held here unlawfully for more than twenty months. We did not have a fair and impartial trial in any way. In these twenty months, I stood trial only twice regarding the case for which I have been arrested. While the trial process could have been done easily without any arrest, I was remanded in prison at every stage due to political pressures. All of the charges against me are from the speeches that you have listened to repeatedly, and I have not come across any other criminal charges.
The only reason I am still here is that the AKP is afraid of me. They think is it is bravery to tie my hands and slander me here and there. While I do not have even a single conviction, they are clearly violating the constitution by declaring me guilty, and they are trying to mislead the public by misinforming them.
They do not hesitate to openly lie and smear in order not to lose their lavish and luxurious lives. I have difficulty in understanding how those who have lost their morals and conscience dare to want to rule the country. You should have no doubt that I will be acquitted before the law soon as long as the judicial authorities are based on the rule of law, not the expectations of government.
But they should also bear what Seyit Rıza said in mind: “I wasn’t able to cope with your tricks and lies, that’s my problem. But I didn’t kneel before you, and that is your problem.” Well, with God’s help, I will deal with your lies, too!
If this bullying and unlawfulness were limited to me, I would not feel the need to bring them up. But you see and live in this kind of bullying and unlawfulness every day. You are the victim of this persecution. I see and hear that every moment of your life has turned into a great tragedy. There is a deep despair, fear and pessimism, trying to capture the entire community. The turmoil, polarization and tension have reached frightening dimensions. Neighbors, siblings doubt and fear each other. In addition, unemployment, poverty, inflation, and the unstoppable increase in currency exchange has made life unbearable. While the AKP gallivants in their palaces, mansions, villas, in luxury, millions of our citizens have become desperate even for bread. The politics of war that bless death inside and outside the country for the sake of their political interests are carried on at the expense of our children’s lives.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Of course, in democratic regimes, elections are extremely important decision making steps. You will elect our representatives who will make laws and govern the country with your votes. Your decision will concern not only today, but also our future, our children’s and our grandchildren’s future. You will decide which direction the country, which has reached a crucial crossroads, will be heading on the June 24th elections.
If you use your choice for the AKP and Erdoğan, then the fate of the whole country will be between the lips of a single person. The very important authorities of the legislative, judicial and executive powers will be consolidated in one person. There will be no institution to monitor, control or limit even the smallest error that one person will make. The fate of 81 million people will be abandoned altogether at the mercy of that one person.
While the rest of the world will move towards democracy, Turkey will be alienated by an outdated understanding of governance; it will turn into an authoritarian, oppressive, and undemocratic country. All the democratic gains of the Republic, with its pros and cons, will be lost overnight. There won’t be any authority you can apply for injustices that you face under this one man regime. Neither the courts nor the other government offices will be a remedy for you. Everything will be arranged in accordance with the desire, pleasure and interests of one man. You will feel unable to breathe in a regime of fear and despair; you will feel like you are strangled.
I’m not saying this based on my anticipation or predictions, but by looking at what has already happened in the last few years. What you go through nowadays is only a trailer for the one man regime. The most frightening part of the movie hasn’t even started yet. You will decide whether this atmosphere of fear will begin or not with your own votes on 24th June.
I have no doubt that your decision will favor democracy and freedom. Your insubmissive stance despite all this persecution and threats is the guarantee of a bright future for Turkey. There is no need to fall into despair, fear or frustration in the face of this dark picture. There is a serious opportunity ahead of us before entering an obscure dark tunnel. We will evaluate this opportunity together, and you will see that we will pull our country from the edge of a cliff.
Those ignorant bullies who use all of the state’s resources for their election campaigns, with governors and district governors, the judiciary, the media and the entire bureaucracy working under AKP orders, yet still do not manage to full up squares, do not let them discourage you.
They cling on by just one vote. By shouting, insulting and demonizing, these political caricatures think they will get the public to submit but it is not hard to show them who the public are and their strength.
On June 24, when you go to cast your vote be sure to put the two ballots that show you want democracy in the envelope, vote for the HDP and Demirtaş; leave the rest to us. In the evening when the ballot boxes are opened you will see what state those finger-wagging, shouting until their veins pop, fake bullies find themselves in! Do not let this opportunity to teach these third-rate small-time politicians who think they are world leaders a lesson. For this reason alone, go vote. Use your right to vote and protect the ballot boxes.
Especially my young friends: you must take on the duty of being election observers wherever you are. In my current situation, I became a candidate placing my trust utmost in women and youth. My resources are very limited here. I am being kept in a high-security cell but I know that you are carrying out the election campaign in my name with joy and conviction. And I know that you will protect the ballot boxes with the same joy and conviction.
Do not worry about me. As long as you are well, I shall be well. As long as you are free, I shall be free. Even if they keep me in this cell for not 20 months but 20 years, I will not submit to this tyranny. For peace, for democracy and freedoms, I will continue my resistance here for your sake. Those who think they can scare us with prison, with cells, with death have become fearful of their own shadows. Let us leave them alone with their fears and walk hand in hand towards sunny, bright days.
And who are we? We are Kurds and Turks, women and men, Alevis and Sunnis, but above all: we are human. We are not superior to one another. Our anger is only directed at tyranny. Our name is Sheikh Bedreddin in Serez’s bazaar. Pir Sultan is one side of us. On the tables of torture, we became Mansur al-Hallaj. We were Ibrahim. We were the oppressed. We were Deniz. We were Hüseyin. Our heads were held high walking to the gallows. We were Yusuf. Our name was Sait in Dağkapı square. If we had submitted to the Bolu Bey, we wouldn’t have gotten the name Köroğlu. We wouldn’t have been Mahir, a symbol of courage. We were Joseph in the well, Hussein in Karbala. Our name is Ahmet Kaya in exile, Yılmaz Güney in prison.
Remember we set off by saying;
When planted, we come back as crop,
When crushed, we come back as flour,
When one of us is gone, we come back in thousands,
Is killing us a way out?
This is why we are different. We are not one man, we are many people. We are not afraid of one man as so many people. We will ride out the storm all together hand in hand for the future of our children. We will not submit to those who threaten us with the death penalty.
On June 24th, don’t put your fear in the envelope that you will cast in the ballot box, but your hopeful message for the future. Say “One vote HDP, one vote for Demirtas.” Give light, hope, peace, and confidence a chance, not darkness, fear or nightmare; let’s believe we can do this and let’s do it together. Remember, everything changes with you. Come and change it together and we all win.
Before finishing this first part of my speech, that I give in prison, I would like to say that I criticize TRT for its unfair treatment, I don’t approve the TRT officials’ stance, but that I also salute all the workers of the TRT with respect and clarify that they don’t have any role in this injustice.
With these feelings, I salute you once more with respect, with love, I celebrate your blessed Ramadan, I wish you all happy and hopeful future.”
17 June 2018
Image & Video:
Selahattin Demirtaş TRT Propaganda Konuşması-17 Haziran 2018-HDP Cumhurbaşkanı Adayı