News from the Revolution in Rojava and Wider Kurdistan
According to an article in today’s Özgür Gündem, Sırrı Süreyya Önder – a BDP MP from Istanbul – sat down with reporters from DİHA in order to talk about the newly formed HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party), its goals, and his reasons for joining. Önder, along with four other MPs from the BDP, will officially join the HPD during the upcoming party conference. The HDP and the BDP will run in an alliance, with the former running candidates in the West of the country and the latter running candidates in Kurdish regions.
Why the HPD?
Önder, who sat down for the interview following his last meeting with the BDP group of MPs, explained among other things why he made the decision to change parties. One the main reasons, he said, was the insistence of Abdullah Öcalan: “Every since we have been meeting with Mr. Öcalan he has always underlined this insistently. Because he was strongly emphasizing the fact that we had taken the enthusiasm of resistance from them [the established opposition]. And alsomade its value – with the reference he made to the tradition of resistance – clear. Mr. Öcalan’s evaluation was that if there was not a ‘Turkey Party’ that we would remain between 5-10 percent of the vote and that we would never be able to convert this into lasting victory, and he explained this from both a historical and philosophical perspective. In this way however a 20-30 percent proportion of the votes is not out of the question. He emphasized that ‘if you can not make this happen then the shortcoming is yours’…the HDP constituents have all made their identies a part of their resitance. Indexing the tradition of this resistance in respect to conditions intrinsic to the current situation, we are obligated to make it much more visible and constitutive.”
This Is Just The Beginning
Önder went onto explain that the party will enter the municipal elections with the slogan, “This is just the beginning.” He went on to lay out the party’s expectations for the upcoming elections – to be held on March 30th of next year – saying, “fundamentally this campaign for the local elections will gain substance after the party congress. The most important thing that separates us from other party systems is this: we will make decisions together. Until candidates who can be identified that will hold to these principles are decided upon, and even after when we are able to take power in the city, our golden rule on the on question of city government will be ‘do things together.’ Our thesis on democratic autonomy concerning city government is mostly crystallized around the claim to do things together. This is also our objective during this decision making process. We organized the Peace and Democracy Conference in Ankara. Those elements coming together around the HDP are in possession of a tradition that exceeds themselves. Whether it be in the local election process or in the decision making process we will take the constituents of the Ankara conference as a base. But at the same time these HDP constituents will not be restricted [to what they are now]. If we can turn this in a practice there will be elections to be won in front of us.”
Gezi Was An Awakening
On the subject of the Gezi uprisings that gripped Turkey this summer, Önder said “After the Gezi resistance all of the stakeholders of the Gezi resistance are partners in city government at this moment. It was seen that if the people want they can say ‘stop’ to a governmental understanding based in in gross, unearned profits. An organized urban opposition has the potential for enormous development. We saw this. That spirit was an awakening and a realization, the discovery that ‘if we want we can make it so this does not happen’ will make [those in power] take a step back on these other issues. The local elections will be an important litmus-test for a declaration of this claim in the sense that it will be a show of strength.”
The Elections will be a Declaration of Political Will
“The coming election can be counted as a referendum on the subjects of mother-tongue [education] and peace. This election is not only an election for determining city governments. We can also look at it as a referendum on the right to one’s mother-tongue. At the mother-tongueis only one of these. It can also count as a referendum on the peace process and the subject of a just, equitable, and honorable peace. For this reason the local elections have from our perspective many different meanings. It will function as a declaration of political will both on the subjects of rights, freedoms and peace and also in the determinatioın of representation. I do not think that this election is important in the sense that it will be that [old election] game.”
On His Potential Mayoral Candidacy and a Potential Alliance with the CHP
Finally Önder addressed rumors that he would be the HDP mayoral candidate for Istanbul, saying this is mostly speculation but that he would run if the party asked him to, as he would fulfil any other duty requested of him. On the question of a potential alliance with the CHP Önder remarked that, “We will not do diplomacy behind closed doors. We not believe that the this will find a response with the people. If the CHP is of such a mind they need to change the attitude of theirs that still does not call the Kurdish people by their name, and their perspective on our democratic autonomy thesis and the question of other freedoms. We can coexist with a party that converts to a program in which the rights that peoples possess from birth are not a subject of debate. If only the CHP would make such a conversion.”