14 Apr 2015 – Threshold no longer a problem, HDP is minorities’ representative: Salma Irmak tells Kurdpress

The co-chair of Democratic Communities’ Congress, Salma Irmak told Kurdpress in an exclusive interview that achieving 10 percents of the national votes in Turkey parliament elections in June is no longer a problem for pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the party is the representative of minorities in Turkey.Ms. Irmak the HDP list for the election has been finalized. First of all from what area would you run for the polls? And what is HDP seeking in making an extensive change in its list for the upcoming election?

First of all I say hello to your readers. As far as you are aware I was a deputy for Sirnak and I was elected when I was in prison and now I run from the city of Hakkari and it was our party that made the decision and made me the offer and I accepted. Our election list is very diverse and it is politically like a puzzle and the people and thoughts complete it. We do not want to be democratic and freedom-seeker only in words, we want to prove it practically; a policy that is summarized in a thought, a party and a language. Fascism and racism will definitely lead into denying nations, minorities and thoughts and the HDP project was founded on this base from the beginning. We are stating that there are different political groups, thoughts, religions, minorities and cultures living in this geography and there would not be a real democracy if there is not a parliament which represents the votes of all of the people.

We are fighting against denial, pressure on other nations, languages and cultures. We are not only a party; our party is seeking to bring real democracy to the region and Turkey. If you study our list, you would see conservative, religious, socialist and leftist candidates from different races, including Armenian, Asyrian, Kaldani, Mahlami, Arab, Turkman and Turk and also from different religions including Yazidis, Alawaites and others in our electoral list. I believe we would achieve a big success in this election would make a revolution in the region and would be great success for Turkey Kurds like the Kobani defense and would establish one of the most different and parliaments in Turkey’s history. We will open in new window in Turkey’s political arena where there would be all religions, nation and thoughts from conservative, religious, socialist to leftist. Although real conservatives and religious people who believe in fraternity and equality and believe in the real philosophy of Islam not those that make religion a tool for their goals. Good days are awaiting us. Democracy is founded on trust and optimism not based on doubt and the base of democracy is respecting different thoughts and notions.

Politicians like Mr. Altan Tan blamed the list after it was released, how do you consider the issue?

Honestly I do not agree with the criticisms. It is the party that makes the decisions and the members should respect their party’s decision. Mr. Altan Tan was formerly a member of our party. We demanded him at that time to be in our list since we believe if there are people like Mr. Altan Tan in among our candidates it would be an asset in our party. You know I was a Sirnak deputy and now the party has decided to run in Hakkari and I have accepted the decision. Mr. Selahattin Demirtas was formerly a Hakkari candidate but is to run in Istanbul. Also Ms. Pervin Buldan was formerly a deputy in Igdir but now is to run in Istanbul and all are pans to pass the threshold easily and therefore all of us should respect the decisions of our party.

Why Mr. Hatip Dicle did not run in the polls?

I was abroad and have just returned Turkey and have not talked to Mr. Dicle. You know both of us are Democratic Societies’ Congress (KCD co-leaders. I know a little about the issue. He says his health is not very well and cannot tolerate three duties at the same time (KCD leadership, a member of Imrali delegation and a parliament deputy). The next issue is that he believes KCD leadership is more important and wants to continue in the post. Mr. Ocalan (PKK jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan) left the decision to him and said he can make the decision. I am not aware of the final decision.

Ms. Irmak, what is your prediction for the elections two month before the polls? Will HDP pas the 10 percent threshold? Can the HDP displace the MHP as Turkey’s third party?

There is an undeniable reality in Turkey’s parliament that neither the CHP nor the MHP have a noticeable activity as opposition party and even in some cases are working along with the (ruling) AKP. At the time all are well aware that the only party that is the symbol of resistance, struggle and opposition is HDP and it is not my idea only. The other issue I want to tell you and your readers is that the 10 percent threshold is not our problem any longer. This is not also a propaganda speech. We are constantly making researches and conducting surveys. The other issue is that the society is seeing itself under the danger of AKP increasing power as people believe there would be a tough dictatorship, pressure and ban against the society and the only project against the AKP is HDP. HDP has changed into a window of hope for Alawaites, religions and different races as well as for liberals and the middle class. For sure we are not satisfied with the 10 percent and I believe our votes would be many more.

Where will your success take the peace process to?

Our success in the polls would first of all boost the peace talks. Erdogan (Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan) and his party cannot kill time deceitfully and would discuss issues seriously. Mr. Ocalan’s power and credibility would be much more and would take more fundamental steps within the process. An even more important is that Kurdish people would believe in their power and no one would be afraid and no one would take seclusion after the belief is made and we will be able to find a much stronger democratic policy in Turkey and this would definitely ease the peace process. At the time the PKK can hold a congress based on Ocalan’s Newruz message and follow the Kurdish peoples’ rights peacefully. However, the make their decisions and we cannot comment on their behalf as they are a separate organization. It is chimerical if we think everything would change dramatically, but the success would generally opens the way for us better and can take stronger steps more freely. You see, in the case of an animosity between two families or two tribes in a society, the more the damages the two sides have inflicted on each other, the harder to make peace between them. There have been fighting and struggle in Turkey for more than 30 years and the two sides have received many damages and making peace between them is difficult and takes time.

Interview: Murad Boroki Milan