Beştaş: AKP has reached a level denying the existence of the Kurds

Beştaş: AKP has reached a level denying the existence of the Kurds

An indictment in relation to Kobane with demand for over ten thousand years of prison sentences has been prepared against 108 people including politicians following the decision of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights demanding Turkey to release Selahattin Demirtas, former co-chair of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) . The indictment has been prepared as counter move to prevent the release of Demirtaş and other political prisoners following the decision by the ECHR. AKP-MHP targeting HDP on a regular basis and calling for its closure. Politicians from HDP are getting arrested while the isolation over Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the PKK, getting heavier and moreover thousands of political prisoners in 107 prisons are on hunger strike for almost three months now. The resistance at Boğaziçi University still continues, attacks on women increasing day by day and a new member has been appointed to the Constitutional Court .
Despite all these developments and problems, no substantial steps were taken in Turkey to solve these problems. We met with Meral Danış Beştaş , Deputy Chairperson of HDP’s Parliamentary Group to discuss all these developments in details.

*What does ECHR’s decision on Demirtaş case mean?
The ECHR has determined that all these attacks are politically motivated. The government using the justice system with a political plan and strategic program to implement such operations. For the first time, the ECHR found violation of the article 18 against Turkey. The decision of the ECHR is a very important one. It is a confirmation of what we have been expressing towards the Government’s policies. Demirtaş and other political prisoners have been absolved from the guilt and it has been confirmed that the ruling party has taken a wrong decision.

*Why the decision has not been implemented yet?
Again, the decision has not been implemented because of the political reasons. AKP is showing the strongest resistance against the decision. They think that their policies will be weaker if they comply with the decision. But soon or later they will have to comply with this decision. The arrest was politically motivated and the implementation of the decision will be a political one as well.

* The Constitutional Court delivers a judgement and they (the Government) say it is not a binding one. The ECHR delivers a judgement and again they say it is not a binding one. If these decisions are not binding for Turkey, then what would be binding?
Of course all these decisions are binding. They are binding according to the constitution and the international conventions. The statement of “not binding” has no legal basis. The government states that they would like to continue their meetings with the EU and become member of the EU. Turkey is member of the Council of Europe therefore signatory to the convention. The statement of not binding is only directed to their own supporters to make them at ease for a while. Meaning that we do resist against this decision.

*Are they using this message as a pretext?
Yes. In Turkey they say “It is not binding” but in the international arena they express their commitment. The government submitted a statement for Demirtaş’s case before the ECHR. They have done a serious work on it and they hired a German lawyer to represent them. Moreover the judge from Turkey had to sign the decision despite submitting dissenting opinion in this case. That signature makes this decision as Turkey’s decision too. Turkey is using a different language at home and different one abroad. Turkey is in a big deadlock that’s why they act like this.

*There has been talk on “Judicial Reforms” despite all these injustice and unlawfulness taking place in Turkey. Will judicial reform make the judgements by the ECHR and the Constitutional Court binding?
There is no need for new reforms to make decisions of the ECHR and the Constitutional Court binding. The current laws and the constitution already guarantees that they are binding. AKP would like to give message to EU by saying ‘I am going to take new steps towards EU’ and it will soften opposition and criticism within the country . This is the main aim. This is a party which has been ruling the country since 2002. They control everything and we live under one man regime. Therefore they only look over new laws that they prepare as a mere formality. The public still doesn’t know what these reforms will include.

*Council of Europe said “release all the political prisoners” but why the prisoners such as Osman Kavala, Demirtaş and all the other political prisoners have not been released? Do you think they will be released following this statement or after the judicial reform?
The government is facing a big stuck. I hope they will take necessary steps to overcome this. I believe that AKP should overcome to this. However they are not giving any signal indicating that. They display a resistance to Demirtaş and other prisoners.

*Is there any particular reason for this? Is this because of political climate?
The fundamental reason is this: The government states in every occasion that they are preparing for the election in 2023. They’ve stated that there will be no early elections . In fact the only thing they think about is to continue to rule. But the people’s agenda is different than the government’s agenda. What they do is to cover their weaknesses. Based on a fake policy they are trying to get powerful and gain the public’s trust again. The ruling party is using lies, anti propaganda techniques to misleed the public and as result they would like to change the agenda.

*The Notion of “Terrorist” is widely used in Turkey by the Government. What is the reason for this?
The notion of “Terrorist” is used very often against the opposition in other countries ruled by similar parties. They declare anybody who does not support AKP as terrorists. Of course in reality this has no ground. If you support AKP then you are not a terrorist but if you do not then you are one. In Turkey, everybody at anytime can be labelled as a terrorist. It has no intention but intimidating opposition groups, intellectuals, journalists and canalise public toward their own agenda through propaganda based on lies.

*As if the pressures on HDP weren’t enough, they are now planning to shut down HDP. What would you say about this?
İn 2015 elections, HDP has shown to AKP that they are no longer a party running the country single handed. The existence of the HDP is the only obstacle for them to claim full victory and run the country single handed. Because we are a party uncovering their lies and making politics for peace and freedom. That’s why they are trying to make us weaker to secure themselves. But this is a hopeless attempt. HDP is a party that grows day by day and gains more support from people. Their aim is to force push HDP outside the politics. However HDP is such a powerful and wilful party which can overcome this dirty politics based on lies. Talking about closing down HDP shows how much they are scared of HDP. HDP is a party of hope, goodness and women.

*Is closing down HDP a solution?
Of course not. Even if they do we will continue on our path. We are a party that’s very experienced on this as we are coming from a tradition which continues on its path after closure of other parties previously. In the past they have closed down many other parties, but they’ve gained nothing. “Being a graveyard of political parties” is a widely used concept in Turkey. For hundreds of times they have experienced that and this is not a solution. The solution is not closing down parties but lifting all the obstacles before democratic politics. The solution is making democracy stronger.

*Turkey has many other problems. Why do they constanlty tussle with HDP?
They are trying to criminalise HDP in order to avoid discussions on existing problems and agendas in Turkey. They have nothing to say about health, education, women, freedom and journalists in prison. Despite this, they are putting us on agenda and demonising us. They spent efforts to make sure that real people’s agenda can not be discussed. Instead they would like to closed down HDP and target it.

*Where is AKP standing in terms of Kurdish Question?
AKP has reached a level denying the existence of the Kurds. They based their policy on war and in every rare occasions they express that they will finish the Kurds and will ignore their rights. However we know that for hundreds of years such policies did not bring any result to solve the problem. But they would like to continue on this path. There will be no progress on other issues in Turkey unless you take steps to solve the Kurdish problem.

*What is the way to get out of it?
The way to get out of it is to create dialogue, negotiation and talks. The Parlament must take responsibility. As we witnessed during the solution process period, the role of Öcalan is very important. A significant progress was made when he was the counterpart. Öcalan stated that the solution relies on peace and dialogue not through war policies. Whatever needed for dialogue and negotiation must be brought forward and the parlament must bear its responsibilities. It is very important that democracy, freedom itself and freedom of thought and expression becomes dominant in Turkey. It is important to talk and solve the problems in such situation.

*How do you define the isolation forced upon the PKK’s leader Abdullah Öcalan? What kind of system is in place in Imrali Island? What is the aim of Turkey and AKP with the isolation?
The formula of AKP for the kurdish problem is Imrali island and the isolation. They run Imrali island with a permanent and heavier isolation. They force such isolation and pressure on society as well. When the government decides for war, the first thing they do is to impose isolation. Because they know very well that Mr Öcalan is voice of peace . In all of his messages, Mr Öcalan states that the solution is the pace. Isolation is a huge injustice. Hunger strikes are ongoing and they have 2 demands. The end of the violation of rights and lifting of the isolation. The isolation against Mr Öcalan is a direct result of the policies based on no solution for the kurdish issue. However Mr Öcalan is the will of millions of people on this matter. The government knows that and for years they have been implementing isolation.
Over 2000 prisoners in 107 prisons are involved in hunger strike. What are their demands? They want laws to be implemented. What is their main demand? İsolation. We repeated that a million times and we will not stop repeating that again and again. This is a crime under the international conventions and also the domestic laws. This is a crime against humanity and there is no time limit to investigate such crimes. They should never forget this. Pressure, torture and mistreatments in prisons are also a crime . In the past, we had bitter experiences when people decided to join the hunger strike with demand for respect of the law and its implementations. İt is a shame for a country that people die for this reason.

*How did we get to this position?
Despite demands of the lawyers and families to end it, they insist on isolation. This has reached such level, and prisoners had no option but to start a hunger strike. There were other hunger strikes in the past. In the end such actions were postponed after a couple visits to Imrali island. However this has to be sorted out permanently now because meeting with family and lawyers is Öcalan’s right as well. The ruling party is implementing a separate law in Imrali. The issues will get deeper and deeper if they do not change this policy.

*Is the Hunger strike a warning then? What kind of results can it bring?
The measures should be taken before the hunger strike gets bigger and costs more human lives. We are also voicing their demands at the parlament and on the streets. A delegation from CPT is in Turkey. This delegation must show necessary sensibility and contribute to solution of this matter. The demands of the hunger strikers should be met and hunger strikes should end. The public opinion in Turkey and the international public opinion should show necessary sensitivity on this issue and problems should be solved through dialogue. Otherwise we may face serious problems in the end.

*Erdoğan says “There is no economic crisis in Turkey” . Do you think there’s one?
The biggest problem in Turkey at the moment is economic crisis, poverty, unemployment and food. The ruling party is trying to cover this up. They express that there is no economic crisis in Turkey. However people on the street, markets and tradesmen and citizens itself feel that so deeply. The economic crisis is ahead of all the other fundamental problems. The economic crisis got deeper with the pandemic and the government is not able to handle this problem anymore.

*What kind of results the economic crisis might bring?
The prices are rising constantly. The Turkish institute for Statistic (TÜİK) is simply giving wrong figures to the public. The workers are protesting as they are denied of their rights. They sack workers even during the pandemic. The violence against the women and children increased during the pandemic. The employment of women decreases. The economic crisis can be felt in everything. It has infiltrated everywhere. They would like to crush people with hunger, unemployment and neediness. The rulers live in their palaces and provide no solution to the people.

*They appoint a rector to Boğaziçi University, a member to the Constitutional Court and trustees to the Municipalities? How do you see this triplet?
AKP using trustees policy as a ruling method now. At first they have appointed trustees to our municipalities and now they are appointing them to the universities. They have the mentality of having full control in all parts of life and everything should be run single handedly. They would like to set in on our municipalities that they can not win through elections. They are using the trustees policy as a stick . Lastly, a really scary situation took place with the Constitutional Court. This has happened for the first time in Turkey. A member has unlawfully been appointed to the Constitutional court. They would like to turn Turkey into an unlawful state. This is directly planned through a political will. They also appointed Melih Bulu, former candidate of AKP who was involved in politics with that party, as a rector to Boğaziçi University. Their policy is based on running all the institutions including legal ones by themselves and remove the last bits of democracy. This is a big danger. It is a practice to wipe off democracy, people’s will and will of electorates.

*How will the events of Boğaziçi affect the academia?
AKP has a problem with science, education and intelligence. What is happening will have negative impacts on free thought. İt will stop progress. The universities are autonomous institutions where academic knowledge develops and thoughts are free. AKP is trying to finish and destroy them with a political intervention.

*What kind of messages we get from Boğaziçi issue?
Boğaziçi University is one of the most respected universities in Turkey. It has a good ranking position in the World and its students are very successful. It is a place where free thoughts are developing. With this move AKP is trying to give a message to say that I can do anything I want and I can make any decision I want. The message is, I am the only one holding the authority.

*What’s your view about the resistance by the students?
It is a very positive one. It’s a justified resistance as they have the right to resist. That’s why the resistance gathering support and simpathy from everywhere. The rector should be removed from his position as result. The resistance by the students is a big warning to AKP.

* Europe is paying attention to Boğaziçi issue as well. Why do you think is this? Is it because there is an intervention against the academia?
The reflection in Europe is an important one. Europe and the rest of the World closely monitoring the situation in Turkey and authoritysm. The decision of European Parlament on Demirtas case is clearly displaying this. There should be more of it though and EU must show bigger reactions.

*Do you think there will be an early election in Turkey?
There isn’t any situation indicating that, but this does not mean that it won’t happen. The government will decide for an early election if they think they can win the next one.

*Do you think that an early election can bring solutions to problems?
The time is up for this government. Election ballot should be put in front of people. The government will lose if there is a fair election. This administration must change. Once again we reiterate our calls for an early election.

*What is the path for the solution?
First of all this government must go. The way for Turkey to rise is based on more democracy, more freedom and more rights. The way forward can not be opened by putting pressure and oppression on the people and arresting them. Separation of power must be secured through a democratic constitution and freedom based laws. This system must change. The presidential system brought authorytism. A centralised administration does not solve people’s problems. Thats why we need a democratic constitution and an independent judiciary. The pressure on judiciaries must end. The democratic process should be in place.

*What would you like to say about the women in Turkey?
Ratio on women rights in Turkey is going down day by day. At the moment we are facing decimation against the women, against a gender. Approximately 3 women a day get killed in Turkey. While the violence against women arises, the perpetrators are protected. The employment rate for women is low and they are targeting co-chairmanship. They are attacking the activities organised by the women. They are cutting the voice of the women. The government especially is attacking women rights and those defending them.

*What would you like to say about the women movement?
The most dynamic and organised group in Turkey is the women. The women are not refraining from their demands and never step back from resistance despite all kind of pressures on them. The solidarity among the women should be set as an example. There is a huge solidarity all around Turkey. They are always on the Street, protesting. They continue their struggle everywhere.

*HDP MP Leyla Güven and spokesperson for Free Women Movement (TJA) Ayşe Gökkan have been sent to the prison. What would you like to say about this ?
There are serious attacks against the women and separate attacks on Kurdish women especially. Both Leyla Güven and Ayşe Gökkan have been sent to prison. The background of AKP is full of special tendencies towards the women. They target women’s struggle and trying to prevent it. These decisions are not lawful and are only taken under political orders.

*The notion of women race considered as crime. What would you like to say about this?
We are facing a mentality that does not understand, backward and conduction policies based on lies. They do not know what racism is. It’s an accusation based on no knowledge or research. In the past they’ve labelled Rosa Luxembourg as a terrorist too. Similar women were targeted. They have no knowledge. They have no knowledge on women. It becomes even more weird when it’s combined with the hostility. There is an attack on them whenever the women say “I exist”. The women are especially targeted.



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