We arrived in Turkey after an urgent call by the HDP to come and monitor the 2019 local elections. Walking through the streets in Turkey, you could be forgiven for thinking that you’d entered a dictatorship. Turkish flags and pictures of president Erdoğan adorn every lamppost. The state attempts to present itself as a democracy – but eyewitness reports from previous elections show that this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The Canary is an independent media organisation based in the UK. It has been providing a platform to cover a range of Kurdish issues and to highlight the repressive actions of the Turkish state.
The Canary was part of the UK delegation monitoring and reporting on the general election in Turkey in 2018 and the local elections in 2019.
UK editor Emily Apple was part of the both delegations and also went to Amed in March in response to a call for an international women’s forum in support of Leyla Güven and the hunger strikers.
Coverage of local elections: Continue reading
I arrived in Igdir in Eastern Turkey, close to the border with Armenia, at 8am on the morning of Sunday June 23rd 2018, election day. My contact, Murat, met me at the airport and we went for a quick cup of chai before heading out to village communities in the foothills of Mount Ararat with a woman who had been the co-mayor of Igdir until unelected trustees had been appointed by the state instead. I had come to Turkey as an independent election observer at the invitation of HDP, having previously been an Election Observer for the European Parliament’s Democracy Support Unit, participating in official Election Observation Missions in Kenya, Kosovo and Kyrgyzstan in 2017. Continue reading
1. Turkey and UK battle to save fighter jet project
2. Selahattin Demirtaş and Human Rights in Turkey’s Elections
3. Demirtas offers to withdraw from Turkey’s presidential race
4.Letter by HDP’s Imprisoned Yüksekdağ: Women Will Overcome Threshold of Oppression
5. Erdogan slams Ince visit to Diyarbakir after promising Kurdish education
6. The truth about Kurdish politics
7. Supporters campaigning for pro-Kurdish presidential candidate detained
8. Tweets from Demirtaş on Erdoğan’s claims on Kobani protests
9. Erdogan’s party accused of ordering deadly Isis suicide bombing
10. Ahval reveals a top secret EU report: ”AKP commissioned ISIS for Ankara Massacre”
11. Turkish opposition leader appeals to Corbyn from prison
12. Erdogan calls for his Kurdish rival to be tried ‘quickly’
Written by Margaret Owen (pictured), International Trial Observer and Barrister
Friday 8th June
I have returned to Istanbul in order to observe the fifth hearing of the trial of former HDP co-chair: Selahattin Demirtas. Given that Turkey’s presidential election is only two weeks away, we the international observers, anticipate a final verdict.Selahattin Demirtas has been detained since November 2016 in Edirne prison under anti-terror law. He faces numerous charges and is accused of making terrorist propaganda.
Melanie Gingell, barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, has written the latest in a series of damning reports about the recent snap election in Turkey, which took place amidst a backdrop of serious violence. Here, she details how voter intimidation became a feature of polling day on 1st November:
The re-run election of 1st November was carried out against a backdrop of extreme state violence particularly in the South East of the country. Thousands of HDP and civil society activists had been arrested and hundreds of HDP offices had been attacked in separate incidents across the country. The mood was extremely sombre and there was little evidence of campaigning by any of the political parties. The two suicide bomb attacks in Suruc and Ankara had inflicted a terrible price on HDP supporters and progressive groups. HDP officials in Diyarbakir said that they had been busy organising funerals in the run up to the election, not campaigning.
Member of the House of Lords, Lord Hylton, took part in an election observation delegation to Turkey’s southeast to witness the November snap general elections. His report recounts the brutal force used by the Turkish state against Kurdish civilians over the course of the summer:
In September and October 2015 the Government of Turkey, headed by President Erdogan, launched attacks against their presumed enemies and opponents. These took place in the run-up to the general election of 1st November. The PKK, or Kurdistan Workers Party, has been involved in political and armed struggles against the state. Many ceasefires have been offered, especially since 1999, the date of the capture and imprisonment of the party leader, Abdullah Ocalan. The PKK, with the constitutional pro-Kurdish party, the HDP (Peoples Democratic Party), and other cooperating groups including trade unions, different ethnic and religious communities, human rights and women’s organizations, and opposition parties etc, had long since declared in speeches and in writing that they did not seek to become independent or to separate from Turkey. They only wanted cultural and social autonomy within Turkey. The PKK made a unilateral ceasefire declaration on 10th October to avoid prejudice to the elections.
Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan, led by Peace in Kurdistan Campaign’s trade union liaison officer Stephen Smellie and student activists Roza Salih organised a fact-finding delegation to north Kurdistan in September to speak with representatives of the HDP, IHD, KESK and DISK trade unions among others. Here are their findings and recommendations.
Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan
Delegation visit to Diyarbakir, North Kurdistan/South East Turkey September 2015.
The delegation consisted of Sarah Collins, Viv Thompson and Stephen Smellie of UNISON and Roza Salih and Paul Toner of Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan. We were in Diyarbakir from 21 to 25 September and met with a number of organisations and individuals. These included the Human Rights Association, Free Women’s Assembly, Rojava Association, KESK (public sector trade unions), DISK (private sector trade unions), Democratic Society Congress, HDP MPs, Ezidi refugees from Shengal and the refugee camp organisers. We spoke to people who had been at the HDP rally in Diyarbakir in June which had been bombed, including one woman who had lost both legs in the bomb blast. We also spoke to trade unionists who were organising and attending the ‘Labour, Peace and Democracy’ demonstration in Ankara on 10 June which was targeted by 2 suicide bombers and where over 100 people were killed. Continue reading
A third report has been written by UK election observers who witnessed election day in several villages across Turkey’s Kurdish regions. They conclude that there was a ‘clear attempt’ by the Turkish government to discourage people from voting, as well as implicit threats – and explicit use – of violence. You can read more about all the observation work undertaken by independent volunteers from the UK here.
Written by Prof. David Graeber, Cllr Aysegul Erdogan, Elif Sarican & Rebecca Coles
We arrived in Diyarbakir in the late hours of Friday 30th October. There was an uncomfortable quiet in much of the city, several streets lined up by armored vehicles.