ANKARA, Turkey (Kurdistan24) – Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on Saturday elected Serpil Kemalbay as its new co-chair to serve alongside Selahattin Demirtas at a convention of the party held in Ankara.
Kemalbay, a little-known figure, is a politician born in the Kurdish province of Ardahan on Turkey’s border with Georgia.
In her speech thanking party members who elected her, Kemalbay said: “Turkey’s peoples had no other chance than the HDP.”
“This is an honor for me. We will always carry this [duty] ahead, and not let it fail,” Kemalbay stated.
She was already serving as HDP’s acting co-leader since the removal from the party of Figen Yuksekdag by a Turkish high court last February.
The court’s conviction of Yuksekdag on terrorism-related charges because of her campaign speeches during 2015 elections also led to a dismissal from her seat at the Turkish Parliament.
In November 2016, police arrested Yuksekdag along with Demirtas and a dozen other lawmakers during night raids on their houses in several provinces.
The Parliament’s second-largest party with 57 seats convened at a ballroom at a business tower in Ankara, with little public participation due to an ongoing government crackdown on its members.
The HDP’s 11 imprisoned MPs could not attend the convention, reported Kurdistan24’s Ankara bureau.
Kemalbay, a long-time socialist and women’s rights activist, was a lawmaker candidate from HDP list in Istanbul in June 2015 general elections.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Kurdistan24 Ankara bureau contributed to this report)