In Turkey / Türkiye


Published on Kurdish Question, Sept 25, 2016

Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair of Peoples Democratic Party, in Sept 2016 interview with ROJ News

Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair of Peoples Democratic Party, in Sept 2016 interview with ROJ News

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has spoken about his party’s ongoing visit to the Kurdistan Region (KRG) following the party delegation’s meeting with former Patriotic Union of Kurdistan [Wikipedia] leader Jalal Talabani.

In an interview with Roj News, Demirtaş said the visit had become a necessity to open the path for the Kurdish National Congress and added, “All our people in the four parts of Kurdistan want this to happen and want the tensions between Kurds to die down.”

Initiative to clear the path for National Congress of Kurds

Demirtaş said, “The tensions between the political parties in South Kurdistan have a negative impact and reflection on all of Kurdistan. We felt the need to take an initiative in opening up dialogue between Kurdish parties to de-escalate this tension and maybe open the path for the Kurdish National Congress.

“Ultimately, the HDP has a project and ideas for the resolution of the Kurdish question. We also realise that all issues are connected to one another. For this reason, developments in Rojava and South Kurdistan [northern Iraq] affect us directly. This doesn’t mean we’re meddling in the affairs of the political parties here. We’re trying to help them forge closer ties and keep dialogue channels open. The parties here have told us that they value our efforts.”

The HDP co-chair also added that it is normal that Kurdish political parties think differently on matters but that all issues would in the end be solved through dialogue, something that all sides were willing to do.

‘We saw desire for a solution to issues’

“So far in all the meetings we’ve had, with Masoud and Nechirvan Barzani, the KDP, Komala, Yakgrtu (Kurdistan Islamic Union) and other political parties and individuals, we’ve seen a great desire to solve issues. There is great discomfort at how things are. There are many reasons for the problems being faced and everyone has a different approach. This is understandable.

“But we saw that there is the desire to restart a dialogue, come together around a table and engage directly. The language and approach parties’ use towards one another is very important. Insulting one another and accusations through the media has to stop and everyone agrees on this. This agreement made us happy. Of course it’s not easy to resolve everything immediately. It’s also not possible with one visit and indeed it’s not the HDP’s responsibility. The political parties here are going to resolve matters amongst themselves. We just want to facilitate things and open the door for dialogue to commence.”

Barzani to carry out responsibilities

The HDP co-chair also said that KDP leader Masoud Barzani’s approach to resolving issues around national unity were positive and that he had promised he would carry out his responsibilities regarding the National Congress.

‘The four parts of Kurdistan are here’

Demirtaş also touched upon the ongoing clashes in Kurdish cities and the Turkish AKP government’s attacks on the HDP. “Everyone is aware of our struggle against the Turkish state and AKP government. We believe that if we can ensure relations between Kurds it will have a positive impact on the North (Kurdistan-Turkey) and Rojava. For this reason it is important to have unity within each part of Kurdistan.

“I want to emphasise that we are not here to resolve our own issues. We are visiting to help resolve issues between the parties here [South Kurdistan] and issues of alliance and dialogue in the North and Rojava. The people have great expectations from us. Not just political parties, but all the people in the four parts of Kurdistan want us to be successful and want tensions between Kurds to die down.”

Makhmour camp

Upon a question from a journalist about the extradition of some Kurds who had had their residence permits cancelled and were handed over to Turkey by the KRG, Demirtaş said, “We conveyed this matter to Mr. Nechirvan Barzani and said we had expectations in this regard. He was very sensitive and said he would deal with the issue himself. He promised he would attend to the problems faced by the people [from the North-Turkey] working here and also any problems in Makhmour camp.”

‘It is an honour to be resisting for our people’

Regarding the arrest of HDP MPs, Demirtaş stated they had received news that Turkey president Erdogan had given instructions for this and commented, “I want the people to know that they need not worry about us, about their parliamentarians. Just like how every other child of this people knew how to resist, we will also make them proud. Not a single person will kneel down or obey their orders and not a single person will say anything [in court]. This is our duty and it is an honour. It is an honour to be resisting for our people.”

‘People must rise up’

The HDP co-chair continued; “But the people also need to rise up for their MPs. When there is an arrest, regardless of who it is, everyone must take to the streets and make their voices heard. This issue isn’t our personal issue. We must show Erdogan that things cannot continue in this way. We are going to resist, we are going to resist with our people. We are going to bring to account the perpetrators of the crimes against our people; those who burnt and destroyed our homes, killed our youths and burned alive our comrades are not going to go unpunished.”

“President Öcalan made an appeal. He said he was ready [for a resolution]. He said he had a project that could resolve the [Kurdish] issue in six months. But he also knows that the AKP and Erdogan don’t want this. The only way we can make it possible is if stay strong, resist and show the state once again that they cannot make us kneel down using guns, shells and tanks.”

Demirtaş speaking in Kurdish

Demirtaş responded to criticisms that he was ‘the leader of a Kurdish party but could not speak Kurdish’ , only in the Kirmancki (Zazaki) dialect of Kurdish.

Demirtaş said he was a Zaza Kurd and spoke Zazaki with his family and understood Kurmanji and Sorani, but could not speak it well enough to make political speeches. “For this reason I make my speeches in Turkish,” he said, before going on to ask whether this was something to be ashamed of.

“Yes, it is something to be ashamed of. But it is not my shame. It is the shame of the Turkish state. It is the shame of their assimilationist policies. This policy [of calling out Kurdish leaders unable to speak Kurdish] is the dirty, psychological warfare of Turkish state controlled media. Our people do not listen to them,” the HDP co-chair responded.

“I would like to speak all the dialects of my mother-tongue: Zazaki, Kurmanji, Sorani and the other dialects. Rather than criticise the assimilation policies of the state they are trying to shame us, which shows how dishonourable they are. This may be a shortcoming for us, but for them it’s a source of shame,” Demirtaş said.

Source: Roj News.


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