HDP appears to reject alleged Istanbul election message by jailed Ocalan

Pro-government Turkish media had earlier claimed Ocalan urged the party to withdraw support from the opposition in Istanbul elections.
author_image Rawa Barwari

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on Thursday seemed to swiftly reject an alleged letter by imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Abdullah Ocalan that urged the HDP to remain neutral in the upcoming local elections in Istanbul on Sunday.

“We are going to build democracy by taking the people’s side against the mindset of looting, corruption, and occupation. We will come victorious on June 23 just as we did on March 31,” HDP’s Istanbul branch tweeted in Zazaki Kurdish minutes after Turkish state media reported of a purported letter by Ocalan essentially telling the party to withdraw its support for the Turkish opposition.

Read MoreTurkey state media claims jailed PKK leader Ocalan urges HDP to be neutral in Istanbul elections

The party is telling its voters to choose the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem Imamoglu as Istanbul mayor against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate Binali Yildirim.

“Our votes are for democracy, peace, and freedom. Say no to those who wish to get even stronger through leeching on Istanbul,” the party headquarters in Ankara posted in Turkish.

Shortly before, Kurdish academic Ali Kemal Ozcan, known for his past remarks supportive of Erdogan, had brought forward a hand-written letter he received personally from Ocalan during a meeting earlier in the day.

“Considering that domestic, regional, and global issues are becoming more complicated, it is imperative to preserve this approach of a third way. As such the HDP’s democratic stance should not be a prop or side to the current election debates,” the letter read, calling on the HDP to boycott Istanbul elections, a scenario in which Erdogan’s party clearly wins.

Ocalan had been under years-long isolation at a Turkish island jail as he was denied family and lawyer visitations until recently. The visit by Ozcan, who is neither a relative nor a lawyer of Ocalan, to Imrail island only days ahead of the critical Istanbul elections raised questions as to whether he was sent there by Ankara.

“Say it once again Istanbul; it is ours,” the party’s Co-leader Sezai Temelli tweeted in a bilingual Turkish-Kurdish message.

HDP’s decision is ultimately reasoned on a years-long massive crackdown by Erdogan’s administration on Kurds in Turkey, its war on Syrian Kurds such as the occupation of Afrin, and fierce objection through repeated threats to the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum in late 2017.

The Istanbul-based Asrin Law firm which represents Ocalan neither denied nor confirmed the claims by the pro-government media.

“We will inform the public on June 21,” it said in a short online statement.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany