Jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş has said the results of the March 31 local elections turned out to be a complete “fiasco” for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its election partner, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which lost elections in several of Turkey’s big cities, Deutsche Welle reported.
Demirtaş responded to questions from Deutsche Welle through his lawyers from Edirne Prison, where he has been jailed since November 2016. Demirtaş, who was the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chairperson at the time, was put behind bars along with several other party deputies as well as the party’s other co-chairperson on terrorism charges.
Before the local elections, Demirtaş made a call to his party’s supporters, asking them to go to the polls and cast their votes “against fascism.”
To a question about claims that Demirtaş’s call played a significant role in the victory of main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidates in İstanbul and Ankara and his view on this, the jailed politician said the elections did not take place under fair or equal conditions for all the parties.
“Nearly 95 percent of the media is controlled by the government. The resources of the state treasury were used without limit, unlawfully and without supervision by the ruling party for its election campaign. The same goes for the judiciary, bureaucracy and the security forces, which were all unlawfully used by the government. Thousands of politicians, journalists, lawyers and students are in jail,” said Demirtaş, adding that opposition parties had to conduct their campaigns under great pressure and threats.
In consideration of all this, he said the result that emerged from the ballot boxes was a complete fiasco for the government bloc.
“And the opposition bloc has managed to bring about a democratic alternative in a concrete way. I find this very significant and meaningful,” said Demirtaş.
In September, a Turkish court found Demirtaş guilty of disseminating terrorist propaganda and sentenced him to four years, eight months in prison.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), however, ruled in November that Demirtaş’s pre-trial detention was a political act and ordered his release. Turkish courts refused to implement the European court’s ruling, and a regional appeals court in Turkey on Dec. 4 upheld Demirtaş’s four-year, eight-month prison sentence for disseminating terrorist propaganda.
There are hundreds of Kurdish politicians in Turkey’s jails.