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(en) France, UCL AL #349 - International, Municipal elections in Türkiye: A victory threatened? (ca, de, fr, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Thu, 13 Jun 2024 09:00:58 +0300

On March 31, 2024, local elections took place in Türkiye. The DEM Party has launched a call for international delegations to come and observe the electoral process in order to denounce foreseeable fraud. The latter took place but Turkish justice, like Europe, remains deaf. ---- Eighty-two cities won by the DEM Party (formerly HDP, pro-Kurdish party), that's sixteen more than in 2019. On election night, the atmosphere is festive: the Kurdish party recovers numerous town halls while the AKP (Islamo-conservative party of President Erdogan) largely fails in the rest of Turkey, including Istanbul and Ankara. Via the movement of thousands of soldiers to make them vote for the AKP in areas with a Kurdish majority, the fraud managed to tip the balance in favor of the AKP in eleven localities.

While the DEM Party requested the cancellation of the elections due to fraud in several municipalities, the Electoral Court did not respond. On the other hand, 48 hours after the vote, she declared ineligible the DEM co-mayor of Van, Abdullah Zeydan, elected with more than 55% of the votes, to put in office the AKP candidate having only collected 27%. votes. Abdullah Zeydan was already arrested and sanctioned with ineligibility in 2016, while he sat in Parliament (for the HDP). The reason: having denounced the bombings of the Turkish army in the South-East of the country. Thanks to massive mobilizations in many towns of Bakur (Turkish Kurdistan), the A. Zeydan election was finally validated. The repression had been violent, the demonstrators had faced police violence, military water cannons and numerous arrests.

The stakes of these local elections were high for the Kurdish population in Turkey, which is undergoing colonial occupation by the Turkish state. In 2015, Kurdish youth in Diyarbakir / Amed (historic capital of Kurdistan) rose up to demand autonomy for certain Kurdish cities. The months of violent clashes between the Turkish military apparatus and Kurdish fighters had finished burying the peace process between Turkey and the PKK[1]. This period also marked the victory of the HDP in the Kurdish areas. The AKP then redoubled its colonial, repressive and violent policy towards the protesters, starting with the Kurds. On the grounds of the fight against terrorism, thousands of civil servants had been dismissed, women's organizations closed, thousands of political activists, journalists and HDP elected officials imprisoned.

Elections under political control
In 2019 during the last local elections, out of 65 municipalities won by the HDP, 59 were placed under supervision and 83 co-mayors of the HDP were arrested then replaced by Turkish administrators, kayyum. On site, when we ask the members of the DEM Party what would prevent Erdogan from repeating the maneuver after the elections, we answer with hope that he does not have the legitimacy and that it is vital to carry out a project emancipatory for the Kurds. Others denounce the alternative strategy deployed by the AKP: liquidating municipal assets and structures and leaving debts behind, to hinder any policy of social transformation of the Dem Party. The current debt of the metropolis of Mardin thus amounts to 61,500,000 euros, or four times the normally permitted debt rate.

On the day of the elections, the military and police presence in Bakur, usually already massive, was further strengthened. In most polling stations, there are armed police officers. It doesn't matter that this is illegal as this situation is so banal. Near the Iraqi border, the population says that the soldiers blocked access to villages and put pressure to obtain a photo proving their AKP vote in the voting booth, in exchange for money, food or under threat of losing their vote. job.

All the co-mayor candidates from the different districts of the city of Diyarbakir, the day before the election
On the roads, we can see convoys of thousands of soldiers coming to vote together, sometimes several times. The Turkish state maintains that these soldiers are stationed near the border and simply vote where they work. In reality, these trips leave no doubt as to the planning of this fraud to tilt the vote in favor of the AKP in areas with a Kurdish majority. Some soldiers are moved from Istanbul or Ankara, others are stationed in the region, on both sides of the border to wage war against PKK forces in the mountains of Iraq. The DEM Party denounces more than 22,000 votes from displaced soldiers throughout Bakur.

Europe complicit in the repression against the Kurds
The day before the elections, DEM Party activists explained to the international delegation the purpose of their presence on site: to disseminate the evidence, to produce a counter-report to the official observations made by the Council of Europe delegation. It is crucial to document the various frauds observed. The next day, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, affirmed that the elections took place in "calm", "professionalism" and "in favor of local democracy". Not surprisingly, the European delegation only visited Turkish metropolises and, in Bakur, only Diyarbakir.

Turning a blind eye to what the Kurds are going through is a European specialty. Western media focus on the battle for Istanbul (lost by the AKP) and do not look to the east of the country. The EU is keen to preserve its diplomatic, and especially commercial, relations with Turkey, to which it has delegated the mission of preventing refugees from arriving in Europe. Turkey also sets the pace within NATO: it lifted its veto against the entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO after having negotiated the criminalization of Kurdish activists on their soil, established agreements on extradition and obtained the lifting of the embargo on arms sales to Turkey.

France is not left out in the repression of the Kurdish movement outside Turkish borders. In less than two weeks, Firaz Korkmaz, Mehmet Kopal and Serhat Kültekin, three Kurdish activists, were expelled from France to Turkey. These expulsions are a continuation of the repression of migration by the French State, but these are indeed political expulsions. France knows full well that they will have to face prison, torture and deprivation of care while two of them have health problems. All three were in fact detained upon their arrival in Istanbul.

Faced with these attacks, let us stand in solidarity with the Kurdish people. Against the invisibility of what is happening in Bakur, let us be the relay of Kurdish voices! The Turkish state continues its dirty war. Erdogan repeated on election night his promise to "secure his border with Iraq before the summer", in other words to launch a new offensive against the PKK guerrillas, and still plans to take control of a corridor 30 to 40 km wide within the borders of Rojava[2]. The coming months will be decisive.

Morgane (international commission) and Elsa (UCL Grenoble)

To validate

[1]Pro-Kurdish party, banned and considered a terrorist organization by Turkey and more generally NATO member countries.

[2]See the article of March 20, 20234, "Turkey prepares a new offensive against the Kurds", on Serhildan.org.

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