President of Turkey, in support of Venezuelan president Maduro, said: “one has to respect what comes out of the ballot box.”
When president refers to the ballot box, and he does very often, to show that Turkey has a functioning democracy, critics often tend to point out other requirements of a pluralistic democracy: freedom of media, the rule of law, separation of powers and others.
I instead, for the sake of weighing Turkish democracy, will take Mr. President’s words literally.
Let us assume that to be deemed a democracy, the only thing we need is people’s respect to what comes out of the ballot box.
If this is the criteria, I would like to ask then how Selahattin Demirtaş who was the leader of HDP, pro-Kurdish party, become the leader of his party; how did he become an elected MP? Did he come out of the hat of a magician whereas Mr. president and MPs of the ruling party come out of the ballot box?
There may be a few discrepancies in the numbers because every day someone goes to prison and few got out, but as far as I know, 53 mayors and 9 MPs from HDP are in jail. The government appointed trustees to more than 80 towns and cities (this include largest cities like Diyarbakir and Van) in the predominantly Kurdish South East to take up the jobs of elected mayors.
How did all these politicians who are in prison, who are under prosecution, and dismissed from their posts come to their various positions? Did not the people of the region and electrode in general in Turkey choose them for these posts?
Here we come the common problem of equal citizenship in Turkey. Inspiring by a quote from George Orwell’s magnificent book, Animal Farm, we can say in Turkey “All citizens are equal but some citizens more equal than others.”
Do not think that this problematic view about the Kurdish citizens of this country belongs to only one segment of the political spectrum in Turkey.
Just look at the outcome of the voting by Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly on a resolution titled “The worsening situation of opposition politicians in Turkey…”, which, among other things, call Turkey to abide by the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights to free Selahattin Demirtaş.
Except for two MPs, members of HDP, all Turkish MPs voted against this motion. These MPs who oppose the resolution on “the worsening situation of opposition politicians in Turkey” include so-called social democrat MPs of the main “opposition” party of CHP.
When it comes to Kurds, there is, unfortunately, a national front, which shows us that not every citizen of this country are equally equal.
P.S: At the very last moment I learned that Selahattin Demirtaş has been nominated to Nobel Peace Prize. It would not be a surprise if he gets this prize. If he got it, as it happened in 1993 when Mandela got it, once again the prize would shed light on the question of equal citizenship in a country and thus would contribute to turning back to the peace process.