Jun 09 2019

Kurds vote not for İmamoğlu but for themselves, democracy - PKK leader

The Kurds vote for opposition candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu in Istanbul elections to defend their rights and democracy, said Cemil Bayık, one of the leaders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), in an interview with the pro-Kurdish Fırat News Agency (ANF) on Sunday.

Kurdish votes played a vital role in local polls in Turkey’s major provinces on March 31, particularly in Istanbul and Ankara. Ekrem İmamoğlu, the mayoral candidate of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) declared victory in Istanbul, which meant the end of the 25-year rule of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its predecessors in Turkey’s financial powerhouse. 

Turkey’s Supreme Election Council nullified the Istanbul vote last month upon the AKP’s appeal that cited severe electoral irregularities and rescheduled a rerun on June 23.

“The provinces that determine Turkey’s political, social, economic, and cultural structure are those provinces where there is a significant Kurdish population that the AKP lost,” said Bayık. “Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir, Antalya, Adana, Mersin, Hatay, those are places that determine Turkish politics. Those who cannot come first in those places, cannot be the government [in Turkey].

On March 31, Kurds demonstrated their power in those provinces and Turkey’s ruling party for the first time closely and deeply felt it could lose its power, as it faced its most severe defeat during 17 years in power, according to Bayık.

Kurds did not favour any particular candidate in local polls but voted to undermine the coalition between the AKP and the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Bayık, one of Turkey’s most wanted man, said.

“Kurds neither vote for the CHP nor İmamoğlu, Kurds vote for themselves. They vote for the future of democracy in Turkey. Therefore they will not change their attitude,” Bayık said in relation to Istanbul rerun on June 23.

The Turkish government last month lifted the visitation restrictions on PKK’s jailed leader Abdullah Öcalan, a move which prompted speculations that the AKP was seeking Öcalan’s support for Istanbul polls. 

According to Bayık, such speculations are the attempts of what he calls ‘palace gladio’ which wants to give the impression that the Kurds could vote for the AKP.