Pro-Kurdish BDP deputies enroll in sister party HDP

Apart from a few exceptions, all pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies left their party and enrolled in its recently created sister party, the Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP), on Monday.

During a ceremony that took place in the capital city Ankara, BDP deputies, with two exceptions, pinned HDP badges on their suits. BDP deputy Sırrı Sakık, who will run for mayor of Agrı province, will join the new party following the local election in Agrı to be held on June 1. BDP Co-chairman Selahattin Demirtas will join the HDP following the BDP congress on June 8.

HDP Co-chairman Ertugrul Kurkcu stressed that the BDP joining the HDP was a strategic move. “Our deputies are not simply transferring from one [political] party to another. We are at the same time carrying a new strategy into Turkish politics,” Kurkcu said.

Noting that what has been carried out is no ordinary step, Kurkcu added: “This is the announcement that the people of Kurdistan have unified their fate with that of the people of Turkey, but that in the end, they [the Kurdish people ] want their rights, and that has been accepted [by the government].”

With the enrollments, the BDP no longer has a parliamentary group. Following their transfer, the now-HDP deputies submitted a petition to Parliament to create an HDP group.

The BDP’s Demirtas recently told the press that he is not considering a new co-chairmanship in his political career. “I have no plan to be the co-chairman of any institution or political party. I am not considering candidacy [for any position],” he said.

In a meeting held last week at the BDP headquarters in Ankara, the two parties also formally merged, although the BDP will continue to exist with BDP mayors continuing to serve under the party’s banner.

The HDP’s less hardline pro-Kurdish stance will seemingly serve to appease fears in the Turkish public about Kurds separating from Turkey, a goal for which the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fought for nearly 30 years until the end of 2012 when the government — along with imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah ocalan — launched a settlement process to resolve the country’s Kurdish issue and terrorism problem.

In answer to a question whether the creation of the HDP is the BDP’s way of fighting allegations that Kurds want an independent state of their own, Sebahat Tuncel, former BDP deputy and the current co-chairwoman of the HDP, said in an interview in Radikal daily on Monday: “Look, there are definitely Kurds who are after independence. We have no influence over that. … But we — that is, the HDP and all its components — our goal is to establish a common future. We would like to walk together.”

The HDP was reportedly founded under orders from ocalan — who is imprisoned on İmralı Island — as part of a strategy to bring together far-left parties and the pro-Kurdish BDP. Members of some of Turkey’s marginal left-wing parties are also represented in the HDP, which held its first extraordinary congress at the end of October last year.

PKK chief ocalan demands legislation for local government autonomy

ocalan, the head of the PKK, has called on the government to pass legislation that will serve as a basis for regional autonomy for Kurds as part of the ongoing settlement process between the PKK and Turkish officials.

On April 27, a group of deputies from the BDP and the HDP visited ocalan on İmralı. According to İdris Baluken, a deputy leader of the BDP’s parliamentary group who was in the delegation that visited ocalan, the PKK leader criticized the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government for not taking legal steps that need to be taken as part of the settlement process

The meeting lasted three hours, and the delegation found ocalan to be in good health and spirits. ocalan said he had proposed to the government the passage of a law granting regional autonomy and a law concerning “democratic civil society.” He said transferring power to local governments is an absolute must, but he didn’t elaborate on what he has in mind with the democratic civil society law.