Turkey’s Left calls for ‘democratic front’ against military coups – and Erdogan’s iron fist

Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) demands investigation - and an end to war with Turkey's Kurds


Turkey’s Left-wing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has called for a ‘democratic front’ against coups both military and civil, after a failed coup attempt by parts of the Turkish army saw 160 people killed.

The HDP – a coalition of Kurds, secularists, feminists, LGBT activists and various socialists and liberals – warned against street violence after Friday’s dramatic events, and demanded an ‘investigation commission’ into the thwarted coup.

Their post-coup ‘roadmap’ comes amid mounting concern over President Erdoğan’s response to the plot, with thousands of soldiers, police officers and judges arrested and detained.

Erdoğan, who has long been clamping down on Turkish democracy, has called Friday’s coup attempt a ‘gift from God’ with which to ‘purge’ Turkey of its enemies.

On Friday the HDP released a statement saying it is ‘opposed to any kind of coup under any circumstances and as a principle’.

Signed by co-chairs Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, it added:

‘Turkey immediately needs to embrace a pluralist and liberal democracy, domestic and external peace, universal democratic values and conventions. There is no way but claiming democratic politics.’

The HDP has since urged more action, including a meeting of all party leaders to discuss next steps, an investigation into reports of the torture of coup suspects, the right of all to protest, not just supporters of Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), and military reforms to ensure greater assembly oversight.

Demands also touched on the ongoing war in eastern Turkey between government forces and Kurdish guerillas. Fighting broke out after years of peace in June 2015 , when the HDP won assembly seats – robbing Erdoğan of a majority, and blocking his hopes to rewrite the constitution.

As the latest HDP statement says:

‘The curfews and destruction of cities and towns must cease. The government must stop preventing the solidarity that is needed for the rebuilding of these areas.

Furthermore the government, which sent today’s putschist forces to Kurdish areas to stop Kurds from exercising their democratic rights, must account for the decisions it has taken in the destruction of these areas.’

It also calls for the family and lawyers of Abdullah Öcalan, head of the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), to visit him in jail on Imrali island for the first time in over a year, amid concerns the coup forces – who the statement notes ‘bombed parliament’ on Friday – may have done him harm.

Öcalan is serving a life sentence, but has been important for the now derailed peace negotiations between Erdoğan and the PKK via the HDP.

Selahattin Demirtaş, the HDP’s charismatic co-chair and a former human rights lawyer, who ran for president in 2014, said:

‘The upcoming days are very sensitive and critical. There are going to be some who engage in provocative actions on the streets. These actions must be exposed and defused.

The streets don’t belong to those with Islamic State mentality. They belong to the people as a whole.

People need to defend themselves where necessary. We believe we are going to overcome these days by struggling in a joint, democratic front.’

Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13 

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