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Turkey: HDP’s Eyyup Doru – "What we need is democracy and freedom"

Translated Monday 1 August 2016, by Tom Gill

Eyyup Doru is the European representative of the Kurdish HDP, the People’s Democratic Party. For Doru, the solution to the crisis in Turkey is not in a state of emergency, but rather the return to democracy.

How do you interpret the coup attempt in Turkey and the large-scale crackdown that has followed?

Eyyup Doru: I think this is a power struggle within the Turkish state between regime of Erdogan and its former key ally, the Gülen group (the powerful movement of the Muslim preacher exiled in the United States, Fethullah Gulen, who is very active in the police and justice system). They were united against the Kurdish people. 10,000 people have been arrested because of this alliance between the Gülen group and the regime of Erdogan. Subsequently Erdogan and Gulen faced internal problems over the control of the state apparatus. There were political clashes between the two groups, but until recent years, Erdogan considered Gülen as his spiritual leader and all his ministers, looking at statements made in the last few years, named the Gülen regime as a democratic regime, as the saviour of Turkey, the saviour of democracy etc . Today they at odds, and Erdogan describes the Gülen movement as a terrorist group.

It’s true that there was a military coup but it is also true that Erdogan has profited from the coup’s failure in order to arrest any person or group that could one way or another represent a danger for his dream of an empire built in the Ottoman fashion, a total presidential system. There have been mass arrests. There are virtually no judges left; they have all been arrested. The technical staff of the army have also arrested, which will put the army in difficulty on the ground. But we also seen huge number of academics and teachers dismissed. The heads of universities have been deposed, replaced by people close to Erdogan and the AKP (the party of Recep Erdogan). All academic bodies are under the control of a regime that has also taken control of the press and justice system. The police were already controlled by the regime, but now the military police and army who were not, are now fully under his control. Now we can really say that it is a dictatorial regime, the regime of one person, who will decide the future of Turkey.

The HDP rejects this anti-democratic system which has resulted from the declaration of martial law, which will strengthen the dictatorship. We voted against this state of siege. The only way out of this crisis is democracy, is the participation of all political forces in the country’s political life.

But can the Turkish Parliament still play a role in the current situation?

Eyyup Doru: Parliament cannot really play an important role because the government will make laws without parliament. Martial law was established by decree. The decrees will only be discussed between the president and the council of state; this means that the parliament is virtually ruled out of any decision.

Everyone still wonders whether the coup was genuine, when we see today how it has allowed Erdogan to better consolidate his dictatorial regime. Finally, the coup served his aims. How do you interpret thing on your side?

Eyyup Doru: Yes it is true that this military coup favours the dictatorial regime of Erdogan, I confirm that. But I think that there was indeed a military coup. And what is also important is that it had an impact on public opinion. Public opinion is totally against the military coup. Erdogan has already used this public opinion to prohibit pro-democracy demonstrations in the Kurdistan region, but also in Istanbul and elsewhere, including the activities of major labour unions. Unfortunately, after the coup and the declaration of the state of siege that is the consequence; Erdogan will be able to further strengthen his presidential power over Turkey.

How can the current situation change?

Eyyup Doru: I think the only solution is the restoration of democracy and freedoms. There has been no democratic elections, the AKP (Justice and Development Party, the party of Erdogan) is confident of electoral fraud, there is also a fascist party that will ally with the AKP to gain a majority in parliament. In the current state, there is not much that can be done at this level. We need a mobilization of civil society, its representatives and also of all MPs who believe that out of this crisis must come the restoration of democracy and peace. What we need is democracy and freedom. I believe we must create an alliance against this dictatorship, unite political forces for the creation of a large front for democracy and propose solutions in order to advance the democratic system in Turkey, and also to solve the Kurdish problem which is one reason for the malfunction of the current system. The leader of the Kurdish people. Abdullah Ocalan [the PKK leader who has in jail for 17 years in Turkey] already predicted that if the Turkish system is not democratized, there will be military coups and that is what has happened. For now, it should be recalled that Ocalan is in total isolation; even his lawyers cannot have any contact with him and our MP (HDP) that during the peace process had the opportunity to get close to him, cannot anymore. It is also one of the reasons for the tension in the Kurdistan region.

Erdogan appears to want to use this failed coup to distance Turkey from Europe. What do you think?

Eyyup Doru: I think that even if Erdogan wants to distance Turkey from Europe, it is very difficult for him. Turkey’s relationship with Russia is in crisis, it has very poor relations with Iran, but also with Syria and with the Greeks. Will he seek other alliances? I think he has no alternative but to move closer to Europe and accept the march towards an process of integration of Turkey with the EU. Turkey is a NATO member, member of the Council of Europe. If it moves away from these institutions, I don’t think it can survive in this region of the Near and Middle East, because Turkey still enjoys all the benefits of NATO and the Council of Europe. The application to be a member of the EU also benefits Turkey and I do not think Erdogan will forgo it.

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