Ew Dibêjin ‘Hûn Tunene’; Em Dibêjin ‘Em Hene’
They say ‘you do not exist,’ we say ‘we exist.’
On my way to vote in local elections Diyarbakır, the biggest city in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast, I kept thinking of this sentence. I think many Kurds share these sentiments. In spite of everything we have endured – the destruction of our cities, the imprisonment of thousands of people, the replacement of elected officials by centrally appointed administrators and the threats to do the same again after the polls – we voted yesterday to declare that regardless of the outcome, we are here.
As results came in, our house became increasingly animated. The sound of celebrations poured in from outside, and we spent the night waiting with baited breath for the final results of the race for mayor Istanbul.
Regardless what anyone says, the election strategy of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) seems to have worked. In addition to defeating all the administrators appointed by President Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) to govern the Kurdish provinces in the east, the pro-Kurdish HDP also played a role in the AKP’s losses in the west of the country. Selahattin Demirtaş, the jailed former co-chair of the HDP, had a significant impact with his call to the electorate to turn out and vote. “If you have any consideration for my wishes, my request is this, harden your heart if necessary, but please make sure you go out to cast your vote.” The results show once more the high regard in which people hold Demirtaş.
The HDP entered this election under the pressure of daily arrests, constant demonisation, and targeting by the government. Just one day before the election, a number of HDP leaders were arrested. For a party that entered the elections under these conditions, the results are quite an achievement.
One of the subjects of discussion in election night was how the AKP won 61 percent of the vote, almost double that of the HDP’s 34 percent, in the southeastern city of Şırnak. I would like to share my observations of Şırnak, a city I visit frequently. I must admit that, though I did not expect such a wide margin, I expected the AKP to win control of the municipality there.