14 Sep 2015

KURDS TO DEMONSTRATE AT THE DSEI ARMS FAIR

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
London, 14th September 2015
 
KURDS TO DEMONSTRATE AT THE DSEI ARMS FAIR
Kurds are being massacred by the Turkish State and the world is watching…
The 'International Partner' of the Arms Fair is the Turkish government's Defence and Aerospace Industry Exporter's Association.
 
Right now London is hosting one of the biggest arms fairs in the world, with tanks, guns, drones and missiles being showcased at the DSEI Arms Fair in the EXCEL Centre.  Since Monday, protesters have been successfully blocking the vehicles that are transporting the weapons, and even gate-crashing the set-up inside the EXCEL building.
The 'International Partner' of the Arms Fair is the Turkish government's Defence and Aerospace Industry Exporter's Association. Turkey is keen to promote itself as a key exporter of arms, with Turkish companies building new drones, producing new MPT rifles and designing the Altay battle tank for the Turkish military. Turkey is also developing its own TFX fighter jets, the first prototype to be ready in 2023 to coincide with the hundred year anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Turkey.
As it steps up its new attacks on the Kurdish population, Turkey is also importing more weapons. It is currently buying F35 fighter jets and Chinook helicopters for its military and police force. Numerous arms companies supply weapons to the military and police of Turkey. The weapons they manufacture are used by the Turkish state in its repression of Kurds and have been used in the suppression of uprisings such as 
Gezi. Evidence has shown that Turkey has been colluding with ISIS and supplying them weapons (read here and here), so arms purchased by Turkey may also fall into ISIS hands.
With Kurdish citizens dying daily in Turkey's 
latest attacks on Kurdish people within its borders, it is essential to campaign against arms sales to Turkey.
Since the pro-Kurdish HDP party passed the 10% threshold in the general elections in June, resulting in winning of seats in the Turkish parliament, the Turkish state has once again carried out vicious attacks on the Kurdish population living within its borders with 100s killed in clashes over a month. In the town of Cizre, which has been under curfew for most of this time, the Turkish military and police killed at least 23 people, almost half of them children, in the last one week.

Purchasing weapons from Turkish military companies also supports Turkish militarism, so at the same time supports the brutal attacks against innocent Kurdish people - It will help Turkey to become a massive, independent military power - We are therefore calling on those who oppose this state terrorism against the Kurds and the collusion of the Turkish state with ISIS to join us at this important demonstration to tell UK and Europe to stop this multi-billion dollar arms trading with the Turkish State (military).
We believe that soullessly exhibiting and marketing guns, bombs and equipment, which will later be used to take the lives of people is against the fundamental principles of Humanity and Life.

Date: Tuesday 15th of September
Time: 14:00
Location: 
Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway, London E16 1XL
 
For information please contact
Zeynep Kurban: Zeynep Kurban z.kurban83@gmail.com
 <mailto:z.kurban83@gmail.com07799285812
Mark Campbell: "Hevallo@gmail.comHevallo@gmail.com
 <mailto:Hevallo@gmail.com07865079415
Peace in Kurdistan Campaign: estella24@tiscali.co.uk
 <mailto:estella24@tiscali.co.ukhttp://peaceinkurdistancampaign.com

Follow and share the event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/723323431144392/

7 Sep 2015

Women goes on trial for allegedly wanting to fight against #ISIS



Shilan Ozcelik trial begins at the Old Bailey*) in first PKK trial in over a decade
 
The trial against Kurdish woman Shilan Ozcelik, who was arrested in January for allegedly attempting to join the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), will appear in court on Monday 7 September, 2pm, for the first day of her trial. 
 
The 18 year old was charged with ‘engaging in conduct in preparation to for giving an effect to an intention to commit acts of terrorism’ under section 5 (10) (a) of the Terrorism Act 2006 and has been held on remand in Holloway prison since early March.
 
Her arrest and charge was met with outrage by the Kurdish community in the UK and supporters of the Kurdish struggle, who condemned it as a blatant example of selective and political criminalisation of the Kurdish community, which has continued since the PKK was listed as a ‘terrorist organisation’ in 2000.
 
We reject this labelling of the PKK, which we believe confuses the Kurdish people’s legitimate struggle for self-determination with terrorism and has the effect of criminalising anyone in the Kurdish community who is part of peaceful political activity. We know that Shilan has never committed any act of violence and poses no threat to the people of this country. As such, we reiterate our call for the charges against her to be dropped.
 
Her arrest also came at the height of the ISIS siege on Kobane, Rojava, when the YPG and YPG, the Kurdish self-defence forces, resisted a fierce onslaught which garnered them international recognition. These forces, along with the PKK, have been coordinating with the US authorities to fight ISIS in northern Syria, despite the terrorism designation that looks increasingly nonsensical. 
 
Ali Has, solicitor, said: 
 
"This case for me highlights the clear hypocrisy designed to submerge human rights defenders. No matter how the trial of my client pans out and what the result, the underlying rational and political drivers behind this and such prosecutions are clear; the PKK (which is embraced by millions of Kurdish people as being a legitimate defender of their basic rights) is banned as a "terrorist" organisation and therefore any allegiance to it will not be tolerated. This seems to be the world's response to the plight of the Kurdish people whom have suffered decades of brutality at the hands of the Turkish state, in Iraq and most recently at the hands of ISIS.”
 
He continued: “The case also highlights the fine line between the freedoms of thought and conscious and potential illegality, with the latter acting as a constant threat to expressing the former. Most importantly however, it is a clear demonstration of the potential for criminalising an entire community and thereby assisting in legitimising state terror. Indeed, Turkey has for decades used the proscription of the PKK, in legitimising its terror on the Kurdish people, and criminalising Kurdish people as its main discourse of submerging their demands for basic human rights and freedoms."                 
 
The PKK was, until the end of July, holding to a two-year long ceasefire while early stage negotiations between PKK leadership and the Turkish government were taking place. The party has made numerous statements declaring their commitment to a peaceful resolution to the Kurdish question in Turkey, and currently plays a key role in the stabilisation of northern Syria and Iraq. Given this context, the arrest of a young Kurdish woman for allegedly attempting to join the fight against ISIS seems more than a little contradictory.
 
Peace in Kurdistan Campaign has begun a postcard campaign calling for the government to drop the charges against Shilan. We aim to send hundred of postcards to land on the Home Office doorstep and we need as many people as possible to send them.
 
Contact us on estella24@tiscali.co.uk
 <mailto:estella24@tiscali.co.ukknklondon@gn.apc.org<mailto:knklondon@gn.apc.organd we will send you a set of cards. 
 
Old Bailey London EC4M 7EH Maps and directions 
<https://maps.google.com/maps?q=51.515492052,-0.101996674451
REFERENCES
CAMPACC Briefing: The UK Ban on the PKK – Persecuting the Kurds
http://campacc.org.uk/uploads/kurds.pdf?phpMyAdmin=I8srdJ5PC9Q2-jYJb4LpEkCqV17
<http://campacc.org.uk/uploads/kurds.pdf?phpMyAdmin=I8srdJ5PC9Q2-jYJb4LpEkCqV17
Campaign to Delist the PKK: www.delistthepkk.com

16 Aug 2015

HOW IS POLITICS DONE IN PERU? Protest against neoliberalism and ecocide in Peru.

Editorial from Lucha Indigena by Hugo Blanco via http://www.luchaindigena.com/

                                       HOW IS POLITICS DONE IN PERU?
              
According to Ipsos, the Peruvian government has just a 33% approval rating.  According to Gfk, 71% of the people disapprove of what the congress is doing, while 70% disapprove of the judicial branch.
          And what is the outlook for next year's elections?  58% say that the political parties do not represent the electorate's interests.  As we have said, voters have a choice for president between three super-corrupt individuals and a citizen of the USA.  And 31% are resigned to the return to power of the thieving murderer Alberto Fujimori.
          We are aware that Fujimori is in prison and that the candidate is his daughter, Keiko, but we also know full well that she will pardon him and that it will be he who will govern from home or the presidential palace.  As we have indicated, she did not protest when her father had her mother tortured for having denounced corruption in his administration.  We also know that after that Keiko served as the "first lady" and that she has never spoken out against the robberies and murders ordered by her father, who paid for the expensive education of her and her siblings in the USA with stolen money.
          During the electoral campaign she will probably promise not to pardon him, but we are well aware how seldom election promises are kept in Peru.  In Cajamarca, Ollanta promised to fight for the people's water rights against the gold mining interests, but once in office he became a servant of the mining companies and had defenders of water murdered.  In Islay he said that the populace should have the deciding voice, but in government he orders the assassination of Peruvians who want to continue working the land.
          In Peru it has become an unforgiveable sin to keep one's campaign promises.  Jaime de la Cruz, as a candidate for mayor of Dean Valdivia in Islay, promised to fight for water and life against the predatory mining corporations.  When, as mayor, he kept this promise, the National Electoral Commission stripped him of his office for this very crime.
          If the people are so disgusted with the executive, legislative and judicial authorities, why not vote for the left?  To my knowledge, two slates of "leftist" candidates are in preparation.  One of these is around Yehude Simon, one of the intellectual authors of the massacre of Amazonian natives in Bagua.
          The other, I am informed, includes in its ranks the wing of APRA not allied with Alan.  APRA is corrupt to its core, and García is Haya de la Torre's favorite disciple.  Among other things, we have cited the government of coexistence between APRA and the reactionary oligarchy, as well as the pact with ex-dictator Odria, who had massacred APRA members.  This was done not by Alan but by his mentor, Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre.  It is probably for these reasons that the "left" does not figure in opinion polls.
          But does this mean that the Peruvian people do not struggle politically?  The oppressed do fight, even if they find the word "politics" -- which in Peru is understood to mean corruption -- revolting.  We have Máximo Acuña de Chaupe, a symbol of the anti-mining resistance by the Cajamarca defenders of water, five of whom have lost their lives in the struggle.  A great many farmers have been blocking activation of the Conga mine, despite the millions in bribes paid to Ollanta Humala, the parliamentarians, police and army chiefs, the tribunals, news media, etc.
          A few months ago the Peruvian youth showed us how the politics of resistance is exercises when they forced the parliamentarians to repeal a new law that discriminated against young people in the workplace.  The means of struggle were agreed upon democratically in popular assemblies.  The accepted support from political parties and trade unions, but did not allow these to lead the struggle, which was directed by the sectoral assemblies.
          We see the forest-dwelling native peoples in valiant struggle against pollution of their lands and waters by the petroleum companies.
          And at the present time it is the province of Islay, Arequipa that is giving us classes in politics.
          In 2013 the government of Alan García was unwilling to suspend hostilities for the elections.  As a result, it had to stop the environmental impact assessment, thereby suspending the start of the mine's operations.  As part of this year's fight, there was a lengthy strike that included the participation of four mayors elected on an anti-mining platform.
          Knowing that the government uses dialogue as a means of delay and deception, the militants agreed to come to the table on the condition that the discussion begin with their central demand and only then go on to other matters.  And what was their central demand?  That the Tía María mine should be stopped.  Since approval of this mine was the whole objective of the delaying tactic, the government lost all interest in meeting.
          In the face of police aggression, the people organized the espartambos -- named after the Tambo Valley, where the struggle was taking place -- which resisted by means of warak'as (native slingshots).  Defenders of water were murdered.  The government suspended constitutional guarantees for 60 days.  The police entered houses to detain anyone they pleased without legitimate cause.  The 60 days have now passed, yet the army is still in Islay.  This is how the "defenders of the homeland" uphold the interests of a transnational corporation by order of the "Peruvian" government.
          This province's heroic struggle has awakened the solidarity of Arequipa and other regions.  We do not know how the fight will play out, but even if the popular resistance in defense of water, life and agriculture against destruction our environment is crushed in the end, it will remain as an example of how the oppressed can fight back for their freedom.
          This is the kind of politics that we want to learn and carry forward.  We have no interest in the deception that takes place every five years, in which we "are supposed to choose our government by voting for various parties."


1 Jul 2015

PYD statement on Turkish threats to militarily intervene in Rojava

Statement to regional and global public opinion  In recent days we have seen threats issued by Turkish officials regarding the possibility to create a military buffer zone in northern Syria. We would like to make some points clear to our people and the international public opinion.  

  • We are a democratically elected party, working inside the Democratic Self Administration of Rojava, and we strive to respect and maintain the internationally recognized borders. We are furthermore determined to establish friendly relations with our neighbors. 
  • We reiterate that we do not seek to establish an independent state, as is falsely claimed by Mr. Erdogan. We work to consolidate our democratic project and we advocate it as a model for the whole of Syria. Syria needs to establish a political system based on democratic pluralism. We are a part of Syria and external forces have no right to intervene in our internal affairs.  
  • We in the democratic union party PYD, and our partners in the Democratic Self Administration of Rojava, do not want to stir up unrest with our neighbors. We only demand that our neighbors adhere to the principle of non-interference and that we together can work to establish cordial relations based on mutual respect, as stipulated in the UN charter.  
  • We are currently cooperating with the coalition in the fight against terrorism, just as our allies are cooperating with the Turkish state in the fight against terrorism. Any attack on the people’s protection units, YPG and its allies would only play into the hands of the terrorists.  
  • A military intervention in Rojava would have grave repercussions locally, regionally and internationally, it would threaten peace and security, and finally it would add to the complexity of the already dire situation in Syria and the broader Middle East. We call upon the major powers in NATO, especially the United States and France to prevent any Turkish intervention in Rojava, which is a part of the Syrian territory.  
  • The people’s protection units, YPG, has fought bravely against the criminal regime forces and other terrorist gangs, most notably ISIS, and has made great sacrifices. The YPG is determined to protect its people and its land at any cost. All we seek is to establish a democratic system, within the framework of the unity of the Syrian territory, guarantee the rights of all Syrians irrespective of religion of ethnicity, and to establish cordial relations with our neighbors. We are an active partner in the international coalition and the fight against global terrorism. Proceeding from the above, we call on officials in the Turkish republic to refrain from provocative and reckless policies. We also appeal to the great powers to intervene in order to prevent any Turkish intervention in Rojava. We also renew our commitment to international treaties and conventions, and we call on the Turkish government to respect international law, and to refrain from provocative operations, including repeated threats of direct military intervention.  The co-chairmanship of the Democratic Union Party                                                                              

25 Jun 2015

Witnessing HDP victory in Turkey: Election monitors report back

Witnessing HDP victory in Turkey: Election monitors report back
Where: Committee Room 6, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
When:  Tuesday 7 July 2015 // 6.30pm - 8.30pm
 
Hosted by Kate Osamor MP
Speakers:

Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Lecturer in Political Sociology in Department of sociology at Cambridge University Melanie Gingell, human rights lawyer; barrister, Doughty Street ChambersBronwen Jones, family and immigration barrister, Mansfield ChambersJohn Hunt, journalist, writer, and editorSean Hawkey, photojournalist and Green Party memberDerek Wall, International Coordinator of the Green Party of England and Wales
 
---

On 7th May the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, the HDP, won a historic victory in Turkey’s general elections and gained 13.1% of the national vote, surpassing the 10% threshold by a margin unexpected by even their most avid supporters. For the first time in the history of modern Turkey, an openly pro-Kurdish party will officially take up seats in Parliament.
 
Not only did the result prevent the AKP winning a majority, and in doing so curtail President Erdogan’s creeping authoritarianism, it also signifies a potentially dramatic advance for the Kurdish movement, which continues to struggle for self-determination and equality within Turkey and the region. 
 
Peace in Kurdistan Campaign invites you to this public event to hear from our team of election observers, who spent 5 days in Turkey’s southeast to witness the outcome of the elections. They will provide insight into the HDP’s democratic project, which incorporates gender equality, pluralism, and ecologism, and the implications of the HDP’s success for the Turkish-Kurdish peace process, strengthening of Turkish democracy and Turkey’s policy towards Rojava and Syria.
---
This event will begin at 6.30pm - please allow 30 minutes to go through security at the Houses of Parliament. 
 
For more information, please contact:

Peace in Kurdistan 
Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question
Email: estella24@tiscali.co.uk <mailto:estella24@tiscali.co.uk> 

www.peaceinkurdistancampaign.com
Contacts Estella Schmid 020 7586 5892 & Melanie  Sirinathsingh - Tel: 020 7272 7890
Fax: 020 7263 0596
Patrons: Lord Avebury, Lord Rea, Lord Dholakia, Baroness Sarah Ludford, Jill Evans MEP, Jean Lambert MEP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Hywel Williams MP, Elfyn Llwyd, Conor Murphy, John Austin, Bruce Kent, Gareth Peirce, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, John Berger, Edward Albee, Margaret Owen OBE, Prof Mary Davis, Mark Thomas, Nick Hildyard, Stephen Smellie, Derek Wall

24 Jun 2015

Spinoza and Other Heretics: The Marrano of Reason



Yirmiyahu Yovel shows how Spinoza grounded a philosophical revolution in a radically new principle--the philosophy of immanence, or the idea that this world is all there is--and how he thereby anticipated secularization, the Enlightenment, the disintegration of ghetto life, and the rise of natural science and the liberal-democratic state.
The Marrano of Reason
The Marrano of Reason finds the origins of the idea of immanence in the culture of Spinoza's Marrano ancestors, Jews in Spain and Portugal who had been forcibly converted to Christianity. Yovel uses their fascinating story to show how the crypto-Jewish life they maintained in the face of the Inquisition mixed Judaism and Christianity in ways that undermined both religions and led to rational skepticism and secularism. He identifies Marrano patterns that recur in Spinoza in a secularized context: a "this-worldly" disposition, a split religious identity, an opposition between inner and outer life, a quest for salvation outside official doctrines, and a gift for dual language and equivocation. This same background explains the drama of the young Spinoza's excommunication from the Jewish community in his native Amsterdam. Convention portrays the Amsterdam Jews as narrow-minded and fanatical, but in Yovel's vivid account they emerge as highly civilized former Marranos with cosmopolitan leanings, struggling to renew their Jewish identity and to build a "new Jerusalem" in the Netherlands.

I have just finished reading volume one of 'Spinoza and Other Heretics' entitled 'The Marrano of Reason'.

I have written elsewhere on the importance of the Dutch philosopher to green politics and the left, have a look here if you need some background.

I would not recommend this book as an introduction to Spinoza, one of the books by Steven Nadler would be better.

However I thought that this volume was interesting and made the case that the experience of the Marranos, Jews who remained secretly true to their faith while being forced to pretend to be Christians was important to  the development of Spinoza's approach.

The Marranos were the Portuguese and Spanish ancestors of Spinoza who had to lead double lives, practicising a hidden faith under threat from the Inquisition.

The Marrano experience led, it is claimed, to some challenging Christianity, Islam and Judaism, and embracing a rationalist approach to religion, which either reject God or promoted a God of science and reason.

It was not that Spinoza was influenced or 'corrupted' by figures such as Uriel de Costa, while he met other sceptical Jews or ex-Jews, the Marrano experience provided a context for the development of his philosophy.

It is claimed that he was the 'Marrano of Reason' unable to publically state all of his radical views but hiding them in more respectable formulas.

Spinoza's words it is claimed often have double meanings.

A very important contribution to the study of Spinoza and whether you agree or not with its central thesis, the Marrano experience seems to have shaped the philosophers work.

I feel to understand Spinoza you have to follow his approach which stresses effects rather than causes, and his effects from secularism to liberalism and Marxism were spectacular.  However while he rejected the ideas of looking at causes or lineages I think, and I guess this is a common opinion,  understanding both the Marrano context and Jewish Medieval philosophy help us to understand his approach.

11 Jun 2015

UK election monitors return from Turkey following stunning HDP result

RESS RELEASE
 
Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
 
11 June 2015
 
UK election monitors return from Turkey following stunning HDP result
 
Six elections monitors who took part in a delegation to observe the Turkey general election last weekend have returned to the UK after a stunning result took the pro-Kurdish HDP into Turkey’s national assembly for the first time.
 
The group has reported that it witnessed no violations on the election day but was able to clearly observe palpable tensions among the public in Diyarbakir and Gaziantep, where the delegation was based. On the Friday prior to the vote, an explosion at the HDP’s last election rally killed 3 people. Two days after the election, three HDP members were also shot dead at a coffee house. 
 
The delegation included: Sean Hawkey, official representative of the Green Party for England and Wales; Melanie Gingell, human rights lawyer; barrister, Doughty Street Chambers; Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Lecturer in Political Sociology in Department of sociology at Cambridge University;Bronwen Jones, family and immigration barrister at Mansfield Chambers; John Hunt, Journalist, writer, and editor; Dr Austin Reid, consultant in international university development.
 
Sean Hawkey captured much of the delegation, including the aftermath of the explosions in Diyarbakir last Friday as well as the celebrations, in a fantastic photo series which is available to view here: 
 
http://hawkey.photoshelter.com/gallery/Turkey-2015-elections-Diyarbakir-and-Gaziantep/G0000IpeniuDUzvg
 
Dr Jeffrey Miley has written a statement on behalf of the delegation:

People’s Historic Victory. 
The recent election in Turkey marked a historic turning point for the country.  As members of a delegation from Britain of lawyers, academics, human rights advocates and journalists, we had the opportunity to witness this vital election in the cities of Diyarbakir and Gaziantep.  During our five-day trip to these cities, we spoke with Human Rights activists, representatives of trade unions, and met with and accompanied activists and candidates of the HDP in visits to hundreds of polling stations on election day. 
 
Political tensions ran high across the Republic during the campaign, in the run-up to an election that was interpreted by many as a referendum on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ambitions to further tighten his grip on power by introducing a new constitution to convert the Parliamentary Republic into a Presidential regime.  The stalling economy, and rising unemployment, certainly did not help Erdogan.  Even more damage was done to the President and his ruling AKP by the influx of Syrian refugees, not to mention the role played by the Erdogan government in destabilizing the neighboring Syrian state.  
 
Perhaps even more important than all of these highly salient issues, the election constituted a critical juncture for the fate (1) of Abdullah Ocalan, (2) of the long-stalled peace process with the PKK, and (3) of the prospects for political compromise on the main grievances articulated by the Kurdish movement.  
 
The Kurdish movement in Turkey has evolved dramatically since the arrest of its leader, Abdullah Ocalan, in 1998.  Spurred on by Ocalan himself, the movement has officially renounced its commitment to an independent Greater Kurdish nation-state, and has come to embrace a program of “democratic confederalism” in its place.  It has at the same time come to express a clear and firm commitment to a peace process, despite substantial and ongoing violent provocations by the Turkish state. 
 
The leadership of the Kurdish movement had a lot riding on this election.  In past elections, they had opted to run candidates as independents in particular districts only in Kurdish strongholds in order to avoid having to cross Turkey’s extremely high 10% threshold for representation (established by the military after the 1980 coup).  However, this time around, they decided to run the risk, hoping to pass the threshold and presenting candidates as a party throughout all of Turkey, by joining forces in coalition with the Turkish left as well as with other marginalized groups and ethnic minorities including Alawites,  Alevis, Armenians, Arabs, Assyrians as well as the lesbian and gay community, feminists, and labour and environmental movements, all under the umbrella organization of the HDP.    
 
The heroic defense of Kobane in the Kurdish region of Syria did much to boost the image and morale of the Kurdish movement, especially in and around the Kurdish capital, Diyarbakir, but also to a certain degree even throughout the rest of Turkey.  Simultaneously, Erdogan’s open hostility to the plight of the Kurds in neighboring Syria has done much to sour his popularity among devout Kurds, who had previously sympathized with him as a fellow Muslim.
 
The corresponding surge in popular support for the HDP has been responded to with intimidation and violence on the part of the Turkish state and the AKP government.  The prospects that HDP representation in the Turkish Parliament would block Erdogan’s ambition to introduce a new presidentialist constitution helped fan the flames of this animosity, resulting in a climate quite unpropitious for freedom of expression as well as widespread concerns about the possibility of electoral fraud. 
 
Throughout the campaign, HDP election offices, bureaus, and activists were the targets of harassment, intimidation and violence on over 170 occasions.  Indeed, during our brief stay in the country, we witnessed murderous provocation up close in Diyarbakir twice: first, at the HDP’s final election rally on Friday, where bomb explosions killed 3 and wounded over a hundred; and second, two days after the election, when 3 HDP supporters were gunned down at a coffee house that had been used as an election bureau during the campaign.
 
Despite the climate of intimidation and violence, the Human Rights’ activists, trade union representatives, and HDP members with whom we met over the course of our stay displayed consistent courage and restraint, while repeatedly expressing their commitment to both a peaceful resolution to the Kurdish question as well as to a deepening and strengthening of democracy throughout Turkey, even in the face of murderous provocations. 
 
Fortunately, we witnessed no serious incidents on election day, though in many districts of the mixed city of Gaziantep a climate of tension and hostility was palpable even to the outsider.  As Osman Demirci, one of the HDP candidates whom some of our members accompanied on visits to polling stations, remarked: “People here are like bombs ready to go off.  You have to know how to defuse them.”  Our delegation itself was received with a good dose of suspicion, especially among pro-government and Turkish nationalist stalwarts involved in running the election, one of whom angrily commented to Demirci upon witnessing our members enter a room where citizens were voting: “How dare you bring foreigners with you to come and audit me in my own country.”  To which Demirci responded smoothly by offering his hand and saying: “We wouldn’t ask for them to be here if we weren’t rightly concerned about the possibility of electoral fraud.  But this is a festival of democracy, and they have only come to witness it.  Let us stand here together to show the world that we know how to govern ourselves, that we all can get along.”   
 
In the end, the HDP scored a great victory in the election, surpassing the 10% threshold by a wide margin, winning more than 12% of the vote and 80 delegates in the 550-seat Turkish parliament.  The result was received with elation – though tensions still ran high in its wake.  The atmosphere in Diyarbakir the day after the election – where close to 80% of the electorate had come out in support for the HDP – was festive, to say the least.  Yet much tension remained, and was clearly on display even at the official post-election celebration, attended by tens of thousands, and held at the same venue where the annual Newroz celebration has taken place ever since its legalization in 2000.  Attendees at the post-election celebration had to pass through fully three security checks – one controlled by the police, two by the HDP – in order to access the venue.  Amid all the singing and the dancing, barely suppressed by all the elation, more than a hint of nervousness could still be detected, and surfaced for example when a sudden loud boom among the crowd probably caused by a drum was confused for a bomb, causing many to jump. 
 
The murder of 3 HDP members the very next morning only confirmed that the election result does not mean a miraculous end to the continuing climate of intimidation and violence.  Erdogan has been stymied for now in his ambition to increase his grasp on power, but the AKP remains the number one party in Turkey, with over 40% of the vote.  Perhaps even more disturbingly, the country’s third most-voted party was the far-right Turkish-nationalist MHP, which managed to capture close to 17% of the vote.  What’s more, it remains unclear whether the AKP will be able to form a stable governing coalition, and so there is talk of new elections in as soon as three months’ time.   
 
Nevertheless, the election result on June 7th was a great victory for democracy in the country.  The representation of the HDP in the Turkish Parliament significantly strengthens the prospect of achieving a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question, at the same time that it constitutes an important step in the reconstruction of a united Turkish left. 
---
 
For interviews and more information, please contact Estella or Melanie at:

Peace in Kurdistan 
Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish QuestionEmail: estella24@tiscali.co.uk <mailto:estella24@tiscali.co.uk> 
www.peaceinkurdistancampaign.com
Contacts Estella Schmid 020 7586 5892 & Melanie  Sirinathsingh - Tel: 020 7272 7890
Fax: 020 7263 0596

Patrons: Lord Avebury, Lord Rea, Lord Dholakia, Baroness Sarah Ludford, Jill Evans MEP, Jean Lambert MEP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Hywel Williams MP, Elfyn Llwyd, Conor Murphy, John Austin, Bruce Kent, Gareth Peirce, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, John Berger, Edward Albee, Margaret Owen OBE, Prof Ma