HDP's co-chairs Pervin Buldan (centre) and Sezai Temelli (front, 4th from left) pose with members of the women's Amed Spor football team on Saturday. Photo: HDP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said they have begun preparations for Turkey’s March 2019 local elections, intending to win back the mayoral posts that they were ousted from by pro-AKP trustees.
During their crackdown on the PKK and the Gulen movement, blamed for staging the fail 2016 coup, the ruling AKP removed the majority of some 100 pro-Kurdish mayors in Turkey’s southeast, replacing them with its own loyalists, calling them trustees.
“Those trustees will be removed,” said Pervin Buldan, co-chair of HDP, speaking in Diyarbakir during a party event on Saturday to discuss plans for the elections.
“When we win the municipalities we will also win their nature, trees, waters, forests, and soil because we know that they have been attacking Kurdish forests for 16 years,” she said.
Local elections were last held in March 2014, almost six months before HDP was founded.
HDP emerged after the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) was dissolved by a court in July 2014. BDP members joined the newly-established HDP.
After doing well in the June parliamentary election, gaining an additional eight seats, HDP is hopeful it can win the vote in 150 municipalities.
Though the election is months away, it is shaping up to be a hard-fought campaign.
Buldan said recently in parliament that AKP stands to lose their majority in the local elections, just as they did in the parliamentary vote. AKP has managed to hold onto power by forming a strategic alliance with the nationalist MHP.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip has said he will not allow HDP regain support in the municipalities.
“After the trustees were assigned, thank be to God, the southeast and east parts of the state were given services. We will not give them [HDP] this chance again,” he said at an event earlier this month, adding that they could take “measures.”
He visited the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir on Saturday.
Sezai Temelli, Buldan’s co-chair, urged people to work together with a sense of urgency.
“Women, youth, workers, unemployed, farmers, tradesmen, and all segments of the community, we want to have a common mind by coming together. We will protect our cities. We will protect the historical cultural texture of our cities. We will prevent our memory from being erased,” he said at the HDP event on Saturday.
Labeled a pro-Kurdish party, HDP also attracts support from leftists and unions.