Joint Defense Statement


The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) that I represent received over six million votes in 7 June 2015 general elections, passing the 10% election threshold and winning 80 seats in the Parliament. Our democratic ballot box victory ended the single-party rule of Justice and Development Party (AKP), and prevented it from drafting a new Constitution on its own. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who aims to establish his “one-man rule” in the country and who have not hesitated to resort to all kinds of illegalities to fulfil this aim, did not respect this election result. He prevented the formation of any coalition government and called for a snap election. Meanwhile, Mr Erdoğan also ended the almost three-year-long peace process (with the Kurdish movement), having seen it not fitting to serve his interests and to enlarge his electoral base, and dragged the country into an enflamed conflict process.

This conflict environment created among our citizens due concerns about security. Amidst this climate of shock and fear, snap elections were held under conditions that were far from being fair and free. The AKP won the elections on 1 November 2015 and formed a single-party government again. 

After hearing the June 7 election results, Mr Erdoğan staged in great panic and haste a political coup in the country by superseding the Parliament and the Government, by taking the judiciary under control to a great extent and by monopolizing the media. He went so far as to publicly announce having seized the state by declaring himself not being bound by the Constitution, by declaring the de facto change of the regime, and by declaring that he did not recognize the decisions of the Constitutional Court.  

Mr Erdoğan himself faces serious allegations of being involved in numerous criminal activities while holding the Office of the Prime Ministry, including bribery, theft, money laundering, conducting the gold trade with Iran in contravention of international embargo, and supplying terrorist operatives in Syria with arms. He has so far been successful in obstructing investigation of these allegations with the pressure and control that he established over the judiciary. 

Mr Erdoğan is aware that the only way to effectively cover-up his crimes is to monopolize all powers in his hands. It is evident that he will not refrain from doing anything short of crazy to this end. He has soaked the country in blood, and has succeeded in inflaming nationalist and chauvinist feelings and racial hate discourse in public by sending coffins to all four corners of the country. Mr Erdoğan is getting closer to his personal goals step by step with the support of popular masses whom he had lured into loyalty to serve him with the lie, “the homeland is under the threat of partition.”

HDP is the only obstacle before Mr Erdoğan to attain his goal; that is, to establish a dictatorship under the guise of a presidential system. Our party’s passing the election threshold for a second time in the general elections of 1 November and entering the parliament by winning 59 seats prevented Mr Erdoğan from gaining the majority necessary to change the Constitution relying on the AKP legislators alone. That is why he has been endeavoring for another possible snap or interim election that might secure parliamentary majority composed of at least 367 AKP MPs loyal to him.  

Our party HDP brings together representatives of all different etno-linguistic and religious groups that make up Turkey’s multicultural, multilingual, multi-religious societal fabric. We represent Turks, Kurds, Arabs, Armenians, Turkmen, Assyrians, Ezidis, and many other ethnic groups, who believe that it is possible to live together in equality and justice. We believe that the only way to sustain this co-existence is a pluralist democracy backed by strong local democracy and autonomy. 

Our party HDP fully embraces women’s struggle for freedom and liberty. Guaranteeing women`s equal participation in politics, our party has so far achieved the highest representation of female MPs in Turkey’s parliamentary politics. The lifting of immunities of all of our party`s female MPs is a threat for all women in Turkey and an assault on their struggle. 

We oppose all forms of violence and believe in the power of dialogue and negotiation in solving all problems. Mr Erdoğan, who aims to consolidate a fascist rule of one man, one language, and one sect, perceives this stance of the HDP also as an ideological “threat.” 

It is for these reasons that Mr Erdoğan has targeted the HDP ever since it entered politics. After repeatedly failing to prevent our party’s electoral success despite all sorts of tricks, injustices, attacks, and bombings, Mr Erdoğan forced the lifting our parliamentary immunities by sidestepping the constitution and the parliamentary bylaws. As someone whose own independence and impartiality are heavily debated in public, he is now trying to persecute us in so-called trials.

The AKP Government that lifted our immunities has bestowed an immunity shield upon the military without losing any time, in an attempt to elude imminent judicial processes concerning the crimes committed by the army in Kurdish cities especially during the last one year. The Army that was provided with the immunity shield on 14 July 2016 made a Coup Attempt on 15 July 2016. Since the 7th of June 2015, the AKP Government with its push for a policy of conflict escalation and its exclusion of democratic politics by putting in effect policies of war since has strengthened the hand of the coupists who went so wild as to bombard the Parliament. Even though the failed coup attempt presented an opportunity to achieve over-arching social peace through a settlement on the basis of democratic principles, Erdoğan and the AKP Government decided to move into a state of emergency regime and began to govern the whole country through Decrees with Power of Law issued by the Cabinet. Whereas it was necessary to utilize this failed coup attempt in favor of democracy, it was used to move into the process of another coup. Appointment of trustees to elected municipalities and the suspension of thousands of teachers are the most concrete indicators of the construction of a new coup regime by means of these Decrees with Power of Law. Erdoğan and AKP whose war policies put into action before 7 June elections laid the groundwork for a coup, have created the conditions for the process that led all the way to the 15 July coup attempt. The policies that have been implemented after 15 July and the anti-democratic concept which appears to have been put into action keep consolidating the grounds for a civil war. Even though the only way out of this chaos is to strengthen democratic politics and put an end to military/civilian regimes of political tutelage, practices that will take the country back tens of years in time show us painfully that this is not the path chosen. 

We are the elected representatives of people. We do not represent ourselves, but the people who elected us. Right now, I am standing before you as a member of the parliament entitled to legislative immunity. I cannot allow disrespect be done to the electoral will of my people and this identity that I represent. 

I have no qualms about accounting for my deeds before a fair and impartial tribunal.  I did nothing that I cannot account for. Yet I shall never accept being the subject of a political prosecution which seeks to stand at attention before Power at this time when the credibility of the judiciary in our country has sunk to the bottom. I carry no suspicion and disrespect for you as a person. Yet I refuse to be a puppet in this mocked prosecution which takes place only because Erdoğan, who himself has a heavily blotted political history, has ordered it.

I shall not answer any questions that you would ask me. I do not believe that you will conduct a fair trial by any means.  It is already against the law that I am brought to here. A politician’s counterparts in the political arena are other politicians, and not members of the judiciary. As members of the judiciary, you yourselves should refuse to be a party in political games or plots. You are bound with universal and democratic principles of law as well as the international conventions that Turkey has signed and integrated into its Constitution.

We shall resolutely continue our political struggle until a pluralist democratic regime is established and peace and serenity is achieved in our country. We shall continue defending living together in equality against societal polarization and antagonism. We shall continue defending democratic political struggle against violence. We shall continue standing against monism by advocating pluralism, and against fascism by advocating democracy. We shall continue opposing sectarian and racist politics by defending freedom of religion and conscience. We shall continue opposing discrimination and hate speech by advocating equality. And of course we shall continue in our defense of equality and of all the rights that Kurdish people are entitled to because they are a people. We shall continue advocating for the Alevi community’s demand for equal citizenship rights, and for freedom of belief for all religious minorities. We shall continue our struggle for women’s equal participation in social, political and economic life. We shall continue our struggle to protect the environment and ecology against capitalist destruction. We shall continue defending labor from the greed of capital for more profits, and advocating for workers’ rights. Irrespective of whether we are in prison or in parliament, you will not be able to prevent us from struggling for these ideals. 

We have no doubt that we will get rid of this fascist order that has been imposed on us and on our country for the sake of a presidential system. Sooner or later, our democratic struggle will prevail. This dilapidated regime of Mr Erdoğan is but going to change. 

I have no demand or expectation from you. It is only my people who have elected me can question my political activities.