Interviews

22/07/2014 - 23:00
Exclusive: Turkey's Presidential Candidate Selahattin Demirtas talks to Kurdish Question

23 July 2014

Kurdish Question

"I know that Alevis trust in me, Kurds trust in me, Turkish progressives and democrats trust in me, Muslim democrats trust in me, LGBTI individuals trust in me, women and youth trust in me, Armenians, Assyrians and Yazidis trust in me, Ecologists and Green movements trust in me. Now if all of these different groups have gathered around our principles and trust in us and are feeding and strengthening our hope, our job is to make sure we do not disregard or disappoint any of them and take this struggle to victory. Our aim is to represent all those supporting us in the right way by staying true to our principles, being clear, transparent and firm under all conditions." Selahattin Demirtas.

What did you think of the meeting in London today (20th July 2014)?

It was a very strong meeting in terms of attendance and the messages conveyed. Thousands of kilometres away from their homeland, people came together regardless of different identities, languages, religions and ethnicities; all the oppressed united in London and gave us great strength and happiness. I was overwhelmed.

We saw at the meeting that the 'Call to A New Life' which is our vision for the future, has attracted a lot of attention in London. This means that people from all parts of Turkey are aware of the strength of the call to a new life, and all the organisations and communities in London have answered this call. From our perspective this is a victory, this is what a victory means; to bring many people with different identities together. This is the most concrete signifier that we can struggle together side-by-side. So I'd like to thank everyone who attended the meeting in London.

The 'Call to A New Life' created an enormous energy and hope. What does this mean for the people of the Middle East?

The main problem in Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Libya, indeed the whole Arab region is that people of different beliefs, identities and nationalities are no longer able to co-exist; sectarian and ethnic battles have intensified to the highest degree. This is why the 'Call to A New Life' is important and maybe the only salvation formula for the peoples of the Middle East to be able to live together in unity and peace. Structurally this means creating a Peoples' Confederation at the macro level, which is formed of democratic autonomous regions at the local level that are administered by the people. The 'Call to A New Life' is the updated expression of this.

If the people of the Middle East had taken the Rojava (West Kurdistan) model as an example, they could have formed, without there being any risk of imperialist intervention, their own administrations and relied on their own resources and self defence forces to defend themselves and their system against ISIS and other similar terror gangs. Today this revolutionary progression is only present in Rojava, but the other areas because of sectarian and ethnic violence and tensions are unable to protect their unity. This is why our 'Call to A New Life' is an important proposal for a different model and system for the region.

You mentioned imperialist powers. No doubt they have a responsibility in the chaos that has developed in the Middle East. As the Presidential candidate what would you say about the role England, the EU and USA have played?

It is evident that the powerful western states such as Germany, France, England and the USA all want to be important and significant actors in redesigning the Middle East. However none of these states, while redesigning the region, are taking steps that are in favour of the region's peoples. As the borders drawn with the Sykes Picot Agreement one hundred years ago become defunct these powers are taking dangerous steps to construct and impose a new imperialist and exploitative system.

Plurality and multiculturalism have been accepted by society in countries like France, England and Germany. Even though they are bourgeois democracies we cannot speak of sectarian or ethnic violence in these countries. However when it comes to the Middle East these countries see even a partial democracy, which they have themselves, as being a luxury for the peoples of the Middle East. There they are inciting, inducing and provoking sectarian and ethnic wars. Therefore the peoples of the region, rather than expecting anything from imperialist forces, need to rely on their own strengths and form alliances with the other peoples of the region to overcome this chaos. At a time when things have gone topsy-turvy there is an historical opportunity for salvation; the alliances formed by peoples can defeat the imperialists' plans, or we can stand by and watch developments and they, as they did a hundred years ago, can design the region as they please. The 'Call to A New Life' presents a foundation and opportunity for the alliance between peoples. It is a call that needs to be heeded by anyone who says they are an anti-imperialist, an anti-capitalist, a nationalist or patriot because this call has as its principle the peoples' alliance against imperialism and capitalism.

One of the strategies of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) is to form alliances and solidarity with alternative and oppositional movements, parties and organisations rather than states or state-based powers. How do you plan to do this with organisations in Europe?

We believe that after the presidential elections a structure similar to that of the Peoples' Democratic Congress (HDK) should be developed in Europe. It will be beneficial if all the parties and organisations that are under the HDK and HDP umbrella also join forces here. Other parties and groups that don't want to come under its umbrella but want to develop solidarity can also unite in more encompassing structures and peoples' parliaments. This is imperative because it isn't sufficient just to organise in Turkey; to organise and unite the peoples of Turkey and Kurdistan around the world and be in solidarity with local alternative forces adds strength to the struggle back home and creates space to manoeuvre and breathe. Peoples' diplomacy in countries like France, England and Germany can achieve this. Moreover solidarity should be developed with international leftist confederations, workers unions and revolutionary movements and parties. We had these ties (as the BDP) and will continue strengthening them as the HDP, after the election.

How has your campaign developed in the last few weeks and what is your hope for the election?

There has been a rapid growth in support and interest in the 'Call to A New Life' is overwhelming. I think the most important reason for this is the hunger for unity. People, the oppressed have a great longing for unity and are filled with contempt against the authoritarian dictatorial Recep Tayyip Erdogan regime. On one hand there has been the desire to come together, on the other the problem of not being able to do this because of social, sectarian or ethnic tensions. Therefore our campaign has done away with these tensions and united the progressive forces of the country, who despite their best intentions had not been able to achieve this before. This unity has created a great energy, enthusiasm and excitement, with which we are running this campaign. Furthermore this is the campaign's most important novelty and gain, and I don't think this is a temporary gain; people now have the taste of unity and will not let it go.

Doing away with prejudice, racism and nationalism and forming a bond based on internationalist principles we have created an alliance of the oppressed that is a peoples' force aiming to take power. More than ever this is a possibility and all the internal and external conditions are in our favour to strengthen this hope and I as the presidential candidate am doing everything I can to help this and will not disappoint anyone who sees these principles in my candidacy. I know that Alevis trust in me, Kurds trust in me, Turkish progressives and democrats trust in me, Muslim democrats trust in me, LGBTI individuals trust in me, women and youth trust in me, Armenians, Assyrians and Ezidis trust in me, Ecologists and Green movements trust in me. Now if all of these different groups have gathered around our principles and trust in us and are feeding and strengthening our hope, our job is to make sure we do not disregard or disappoint any of them and take this struggle to victory. Our aim is to represent all those supporting us in the right way by staying true to our principles, being clear, transparent and firm under all conditions.

Thank you on behalf of Kurdish Question and the people of England.

I thank you for your efforts and hard work.

*Interview conducted by Memed Aksoy & Mark Campbell.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of KurdishQuestion.com