Kurdistan Communities Union: Women and youth assured victory in Turkey’s municipal election (Plus People’s Equality and Democracy Party: ‘Respect the will of the people of Van!’)

First published at KCK-Info.

By expressing their will, the people of Northern Kurdistan and Turkey earned a historic and significant victory in the local elections that were held on March 31, 2024. We extend our sincere congratulations to the Kurdish people for this historic achievement, especially to those in northern Kurdistan.

All four parts of Kurdistan are proud and pleased with the result gained by the people of North Kurdistan. The outcome of the March 31 local elections has strengthened the Kurdish people’s united freedom struggle and allowed it to secure an important position. Without a doubt, the people who took on responsibility and put in the work during this process were key in bringing about this historic outcome. We would particularly like to congratulate these friends on this success.

As everyone saw, an immense effort was put in. By achieving a historic outcome, our people have demonstrated their appreciation toward the hard work of the election campaign members in the best possible way.

Through the development of solidarity actions with those imprisoned, Kurdish mothers have been successful in awakening and mobilizing the conscience of society. As the conscience of society, our mothers have played a historical role that was crucial to the outcomes attained. In this instance, we express our respect for them. Once more, the attitude of women and young people toward the advancement and defense of the principles of freedom was crucial to the historical triumph attained. The stance of women and the youth has assured the victory of our philosophy of freedom, which is based on the freedom of women. It has blocked the games of special warfare. We extend our greetings and congratulate women and young people in this regard.

Our people have clearly expressed objections to the isolation of Rêber Apo1  and the trustee appointment regime which was aimed to seize the will of the Kurdish people. The objection of the people was not only to the trustee regime but to the force implementing it. The 31 March municipal elections conveyed a very clear message to the AKP-MHP and its policies of denial and genocide. It reflected the strong determination of Newroz, and the Kurdish people responded most forcefully, declaring that isolation and fascism have no place here, in Kurdistan.

The fascism of the AKP-MHP did not take hold in Kurdistan. The fascist AKP-MHP received a historical blow from the societies of Turkey. It was unable to dominate the Kurdish people despite uninterruptedly attacking every day for nine years; it was unable to divert them from Rêber Apo and their embrace for freedom. It was unable to stir hostility against the Kurds within Turkish society. The united struggle of the Kurdish and Turkish people has resulted in victory for democratic solidarity.

The essence of the concepts of ‘progress’ and ‘co-existence’ as parts of the paradigm of democratic nation was strongly demonstrated in the municipal elections held on March 31. The understanding of democratic nation, which embraces inter-people harmony and fraternity, has triumphed against the nation-state’s fascist understanding. Thus, this historic victory is essentially the result of the combined struggle of both the Kurdish and Turkish people. The Kurdish people, the Turkish people, women, socialist and democratic forces, ecologists, Alevis, workers, and laborers – in other words, everyone who fights for freedom and democracy – have all achieved victory in this effort. However, these outcomes also serve as a call to action for the democratic forces fighting for freedom and democracy, encouraging them to broaden their horizons and strengthen their bonds with one another.

It goes without saying that, as we have already pointed out, the elections were not held in a democratic setting. In fact, the opposite is true; they were conducted practically under martial law. Kurdistan has been subjected to martial law and colonial inspector ruled over the past nine years. Appointed trustees represent but one aspect of this. The atmosphere in Kurdistan was entirely of military-fascist character. This was the setting for the elections; a climate of oppression, threats, extortion, and violence pervaded the voter base. Tens of thousands of people – soldiers, police, civil servants, and the likes – were transported to Kurdish cities in plain clothing, to cast ballots and affect the outcome of the elections. This practice illustrates the fascism of the AKP-MHP and the depth of its hatred towards the Kurds. Such a technique has never been used by any fascist system. Despite all of this, Kurdistan won a historical victory. This demonstrates unequivocally that the outcomes gained by the Kurdish people substantially surpass the official results. There is hardly a single Kurdish city, town, or village where the fascist anti-Kurdish AKP-MHP was elected. The districts and center of Şirnak, as well as the districts of Hakkari, Kars, Bitlis, and Bingöl, were only gained by the AKP-MHP through foul play. The Kurdish people cannot accept usurpation and will not tolerate this.

The attitude, role, and historical achievements of the Kurdish people must be read correctly in relation to the municipal elections on March 31. With its racist, nationalist, and bigoted mentality and its policies based on Kurdish enmity, the fascist AKP-MHP administration has done great harm to Turkey. With 22 years in power, the last nine of which have been particularly disastrous, Turkey’s people have been plunged into extreme poverty. Turkey has become a haven for spies, gangs, mafia, frauds, and phonies. For years, the enemy of humanity, with this fascist mindset, has been confronted by the Kurdish people and the Kurdish freedom movement. The Turkish peoples and the democratic socialist forces have also unquestionably played a significant role in the fight against AKP-MHP fascism. The recent elections demonstrated the historic outcomes of this struggle, which overthrew the AKP-MHP’s murderous colonialist policies and undermined the fascist regime in Turkey. We think that at this point, the value of the Kurdish people’s resistance is more apparent.

The AKP-MHP administration can no longer rule Turkey in the given climate; it is impossible that they proceed this path. The administration of the AKP-MHP is planning to intensify its campaign against the Kurds. It is obvious that this will only serve to further entrench Turkey in the disastrous path it has been forced to take. Intellectuals, writers, artists, and politicians in Turkey need to acknowledge and reject this situation. Rather than intensifying the conflict with the Kurds, Turkey has to find a democratic political solution that reinforces the country’s transition to democracy. In Newroz and throughout the elections, the Kurdish people made it plain what position they were taking: they said that Rêber Apo’s physical freedom should be secured, that his isolation should end at once, and that he should be considered a negotiator in the resolution of the Kurdish question. Everyone ought to take this and the Kurdish people’s demands into account.

We address the nations of the world and the states in our region with the following appeal. Plans by the AKP-MHP to intensify the genocide against the Kurdish people, set them against one another, and plunge the area into further war and strife should not be endorsed or supported. Everyone should act with consideration for the Kurdish people’s demands.

We congratulate the Kurdish mothers, the Turkish people, the entire people of Northern Kurdistan, and the democratic forces, the women, and youth once more on their historic victory in the local elections held on March 31. We wish them ongoing success.

Co-Presidency, KCK Executive Council

People’s Equality and Democracy Party: We urge the AKP Government to respect the will of the people of Van!

Introduction by ANF English

The People’s Equality and Democracy Party (DEM) won the local elections in the Kurdish province of Van on 31 March with a large majority. Instead of handing over the mandate to DEM co-mayor Abdullah Zeydan, who won the election with 55.5 percent of the vote, the office of mayor was given to AKP candidate Abdulahat Arvas with a 27 percent share of the vote. People of Van took to the streets today in protest, confronted with police attacks with tear gas and water cannons. Similar actions by the state forces are also emerging in other provinces where protests are taking place against the usurpation of the people’s will.

The authorities justified the move, which was categorised by lawyers as "clearly illegal", with an appeal by the Turkish Ministry of Justice against an earlier decision granting Zeydan the right to be elected. The former member of parliament served more than five years in prison on terror charges, was convicted by a final judgement and was released in early 2022. Nevertheless, the election committee did not raise any objections to his application to run for mayor.

The DEM Party and the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD) made public today that, last Friday, just five minutes before the court closed - and less than 48 hours before the local elections - the Ministry of Justice obtained the cancellation of the restoration of Zeydan's political rights and a reversal of the erasure from the criminal record. The application was decided in favour of the ministry in a summary procedure and the decision was sent to the election board. The ÖHD speaks of an "instruction" that came "from the very top" and said: "The judiciary has once again submitted to the executive. Hours before the local elections, it conducted an inadmissible objection procedure and disregarded the law in favour of those in power. The Van Provincial Election Commission did not object to the court's unlawful decision against Abdullah Zeydan and appointed the defeated AKP candidate as mayor. The political will of the people has once again been usurped."

Van Metropolitan Municipality Co-Mayors Neslihan Şedal and Abdullah Zeydan made a statement in front of the DEM Party Van Provincial Organisation.

Speaking here to the accompaniment of hundreds of people, Abdullah Zeydan said, "We have taken 14 municipalities in Van with the will of our people. Despite the fact that I have taken back my rights, an ambush and trap are intended to be set against the will of the people."

Referring to the current process, Zeydan said, "I applied to the court for the restoration of my rights due to my conviction a year ago and the court accepted it. It is not enough for the court to make this decision, which must also be finalised. And, indeed, this decision has been finalised. There is no problem in this regard. A year has passed, and I applied to the provincial election board with the court decision and the finalisation annotation. The YSK (Supreme Election Board) examined all the documents and said that there was no obstacle to my eligibility for election. Firstly, it published the provisional list. Then the final candidate list was published and there was no objection. Yesterday afternoon, at 16.55, we learnt that the Directorate of Criminal Registry wrote a letter to the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor's Office with the excuse that the decision of a year ago was not notified to the court."

Zeydan said that there is no similar decision in Turkey and continued: "It is like a situation in which a finalised decision of the Court of Cassation is annulled by a local court. There is absolute lawlessness and illegality. Sometimes the Ministry of Justice may attempt to overturn a decision in favour of the law. There is such a procedure. But they did not follow this procedure either. In fact, the court could have taken the prosecutor's decision to the Court of Cassation. The court cancelled the decision it had made a year ago without any legal basis. There is an ambush and trap set against the will of the people. We will protect the will of the people against this ambush until the end. It means that after the decision was taken, the AKP was informed, and they submitted a request to get the mandate for the mayor’s office. The chair of the Provincial Election Board did not accept the AKP's request to give the mandate to their candidate, but two members voted yes. We have the right to appeal against this decision. Our lawyers are already doing their work. The issue here is not Zeydan and Şedal, it is a trap set against the Kurdish people, against the people of Van. We expect everyone to stand up against this lawlessness. Because what is done to us today will be done to Izmir tomorrow. No one can trample the will of the people.”

Addressing the AKP candidate, Zeydan said, "It is not right for you to openly trample the will and honour of this people with such open conspiracies and traps. How will you sit in that seat by trampling on the will of this people? How will you face the people? How will you go out among them? This people will never accept this. We invite everyone to be rational. This will must be manifested as soon as possible. We salute the people of Van who embrace their honour and will.”

Neslihan Şedal, Co-Mayor of Van Metropolitan Municipality, said, "Today's success and victory is a point reached together with the people."

Interpreting the unlawful measure against Zeydan as a "political coup", Şedal said, "We state once again that we will reveal our attitude against this and that we will once again recover what was taken from us from their usurpation. We do not recognise the decision taken by the Republic of Turkey. We say that it is a political decision and usurpation. The will of this people is much greater than the decisions they are trying to take. Today, those who cannot digest our victory and the success of this people have realised that they have suffered a defeat in Kurdistan and are taking it out on the people. The patriotic people of Van have shown that they will stand firm against this usurpation. Our attitude against this political coup is clear. Abdulahat Arvas will not be able to sit in that seat. Even if he does, he will not be able to go out among this people who have not taken him for their will. We are and will remain the will of this people. We appeal to our people; do not give them the opportunity and embrace your will.”

Below is the DEM statement

Our party achieved a historic victory in the local elections held on March 31, 2024, in Van. The people of Van entrusted all fourteen municipalities, including the Metropolitan Municipality, to the DEM Party, establishing it as the leading party in the Provincial General Assembly by a significant margin. The electorate of Van expressed their resolute will decisively at the ballot box, a resounding response to the trustee regime.

Despite such a clear mandate from the public, new illegal actions are being implemented in Van, as they were in many HDP municipalities following the 2019 elections. In the Metropolitan Municipality, where the DEM Party received 55% of the vote and the AKP just 27%, our elected DEM Party Co-Mayor of Van Metropolitan Municipality, Mr. Abdullah Zeydan has been denied office and replaced by the AKP candidate.

As is widely known, Mr. Zeydan, completed all requisite legal procedures and successfully secured candidacy approval from the Supreme Election Board (YSK) after rigorous scrutiny. Mr. Zeydan garnered substantial support from the people of Van and was duly elected.

However, merely five minutes before the close of business on Friday, March 29, 2024, and a mere two days before the election, the Ministry of Justice, via an administrative decision and correspondence, contested the legal credentials of Mr, Zeydan, who had been restored his full civil rights by a court decision when released from prison in 2022. Following Friday’s administrative decision and objection letter, which was essentially a directive, the authorized prosecutor's office resubmitted the matter to the court that had issued the decision to restore his civil rights two years ago. That same day, the court revoked their own previous decision and dismissed Mr Zeydan’s civil rights application; and they pre-emptively informed the YSK prior to the formalisation of their new reversed decision, thus curtailing the right to object and appeal.

The very court that had initially ruled in favor of restoring the civil rights of our Co-Mayor Mr. Abdullah Zeydan reversed its decision. This manoeuvre reflects a mentality that disregards the mandate of the people. Mr. Zeydan rightfully holds the position of Metropolitan Municipality Co-Mayor, as bestowed upon him by the people of Van.

We urge all parties to acknowledge this fact. This erroneous ruling must be promptly overturned. Such actions, which flout the will of the people of Van, are unlawful.

We call upon all supporters of democratic principles to condemn this course of action. Respecting the will of the people is fundamental to the essence of democracy.

We demand that the government honour the mandate of the people!

DEM Party Central Executive Board
2 April 2024

  • 1Referring to Kurdish peoples leader Abdullah Öcalan