Demirtas and the HDP’s proposals for a new life: radical democracy, peace, justice, freedom of belief.
Selahattin Demirtas announced his manifesto at a press conference at the Sisli Kent Culture Centre, which was festooned by banners bearing the keynote principles of the manifesto, such as: “He unites and makes peace”, “He does not discriminate” and “Democratic change, peaceful Turkey”.
Demirtas entered the hall to prolonged loud applause and ululations.
The press conference was attended by HDP MPs and party component leaders Pervin Buldan, Levent Tüzel, Ertugrul Kürkçü, Halil Aksoy and Sebahat Tuncel, Berkin Elvan’s parents Gülsüm and Sami Elvan, Ahmet Kaya’s widow Gülten Kaya, Rakel Dink, writers Ali Bayramoglu, Murat Yetkin, Can Dündar, Ahmet Altan, Yildirim Türker, Tarhan Erdem, Zeynep Tanbay and Ömer Madra and journalist Günay Aslan, who returned to Turkey recently after 20 years in exile.
Writers Yasar Kemal and Adalet Agaoglu sent messages of support to the press conference.
Demirtas began by saying: “What I say today will not be the first time I have said it, nor the last. I am here to continue to say whatever needs to be said persistently for peace and fraternity.”
Demirtas added that the fact the President was being elected for the first time by the people did not mean the process was democratic and transparent, saying: “the people should be able to nominate their own candidates. Having a Parliamentary monopoly over nominations is not democratic.”
Demirtas continued, saying: “Let us recall our principles. We will avoid anger which calls for the jeering of mourning mothers. We will endeavour to be a president for all oppressed identities.”
Ovation for Berkin and his mother
When Demirtas announced the presence of Berkin Elvan’s mother, Gülsüm Elvan, who Prime Minister Erdogan encouraged his supporters to jeer, there was an ovation.
After thanking the volunteers working on his campaign, Demirtas read out his manifesto, entitled “call for a new life”.
“With my candidacy we are not only proposing a new president for Turkey, we are also proposing a new life. This is a proposal to re-establish the threadbare fraternity on new equal foundations”. “Our call is to build a brand new life where all the peoples and faith groups in Turkey live together freely without resembling, or being made to resemble each other.”
The headings in Demirtas’s manifesto are as follows:
“the call for a new life is a call for radical democracy.
the call for a new life is to believe in peace.
the call for a new life is justice.
the call for a new life is freedom of belief.
the call for a new life is green.
the call for a new life is youth.
the call for a new life is the right to education.
the call for a new life is women.
the call for a new life is global peace.
the call for a new life is organisation.”
Demirtas’s announcement was greeted with applause.
He added: “What we will do is leave the seeds of a new life in the soil, where we will ensure they grow into great trees. We will oppose those who see trees as only a source of firewood. We are the enlightened face of Turkey. If freedom is to dance in the moonlight, then let us dance together in the new life.”
Demirtas said journalists should feel free to ask questions, adding: “we will not admonish anyone.”
Demirtas responded to a question, saying: “I have not come to save you. I am standing in order to convey the message of co-existence. I am not saying the president will accomplish all this. We will build the new life together. We will pursue a policy of reducing central authority and increasing local powers.”
‘The other candidates can answer questions regarding the second round’
Demirtas, responding to a question regarding the second round of voting, said: “I am not the person to answer this question. In the second round one of the other two candidates will either have to support me or call for a boycott. No one will vote for me in the first round wanting me to back someone else in the second round. If we don’t make the second round, if cats get in the transformers, we will continue to advocate our principles. We are not obsessed with positions of power. We will continue to deposit our seeds in the soil.”
“If you win, will you be able to work with Prime Minister Erdogan? Demirtas was asked. He replied: “If I win and Erdogan is still Prime Minister, then may God help him. He will understand what democracy and pluralism is.”
In response to a question about the other two candidates, Demirtas said: “I became a candidate in order not to leave those who trust us without an option. We do not consider the ‘anyone but Tayyip’ position to be a principled one. I think neither of them represents the people.”
On being asked how many votes he expected to receive, Demirtas said:
“I am a modest candidate. 50% plus one will do.” In response to a question regarding the Turkish flag, Demirtas said: “Of course we have no problem with the Turkish flag, but this flag has been used to conceal many crimes. That is when it has been most besmirched. Those responsible for the affront were then declared to be patriots.”
Demirtas’s witty responses to journalists’ questions were met with laughter in the audience, who applauded enthusiastically as the press conference concluded.
ANF – ISTANBUL 16.07.2014