The HDP's Selahattin Demirtaş outside a courthouse in Turkey in 2016. Photo: HDP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The imprisoned co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş has issued a written statement in which he has called for peace and to not move forward categorizing people as ‘Yes’ or ‘No’
“We will keep our calm through principles. We are open to a democratic solution and a principled unity. However, theoretical talk about names for 2019 is not right. The right thing is to talk about principles,” Demirtas wrote in a statement published on the HDP’s website.
The main pro-Kurdish HDP, the third party in the Turkish parliament, opposed the 18 constitutional changes which passed by a national referendum of 51-to-49 to margin.
“I am happy about the hope of freedom and peace that have emerged after the April 16, 2017 referendum. I take the position dividing the society into a ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ vote to be wrong, especially the perspective that the 'Yes' votes were against or enemies of democracy,” Demirtaş’ statement added.
He also has talked about a possible unity in common democratic factors.
“The political establishment will be obliged to open the door for this. It’s said that even 24 hours in doing politics is a long time. Many political changes will happen until 2019.”
The constitutional reforms aim to establish a presidential system in place of the current parliamentary system, were fiercely opposed by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and HDP.
Among the changes already realized was President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s return to membership of the Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Other changes may pave the way for Erdogan to stay in power until 2029 as he would have the right to stand in the presidential elections for two more five-year terms under the new constitution.
HDP’s other co-leader Figen Yuksekdag along with nine other party officials, many of them members of parliament, remain in custody pending trial.
Demirtas was charged with spreading terrorist propaganda.
The party announced this week it is preparing a vote to introduce Filiz Kerestecioğlu to replace Yuksekdag whose parliamentary membership was revoked by the Turkish supreme court in February after being sentenced to one year in prison earlier on terror-related charges.