Day after her election, new Kurdish leader under Turkish investigation

Over the weekend, HDP Co-leader Buldan had criticized Turkey's costly war on the besieged enclave of Afrin in Syrian Kurdistan.
author_image Ari Khalidi

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Pervin Buldan, the Co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), found herself as the target of a probe by the public prosecutor’s office in Ankara over showing solidarity with Syrian Kurds who are the target of a weeks-long Turkish army offensive.

The investigation against Buldan and lawmaker Sirri Sureyya Onder came a day after an ordinary HDP convention elected the former alongside Sezai Temelli as its new Co-leaders.

Prosecutors were accusing the two of “propaganda for a terrorist organization, inciting hatred among the public, and praising criminals,” Kurdistan 24’s Ankara bureau reported.

“The answer is not war,” Buldan said over the weekend, rejecting Turkey’s costly war on the besieged enclave of Afrin in Syrian Kurdistan that has killed over 150 civilians and displaced 60,000 others.

She urged the administration of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to re-initiate peace talks with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned at the Imrali island of the inland sea of Marmara, northwestern Turkey.

“You shouldn’t go to Afrin; you should go to Imrali,” she said, in a speech addressing some 10,000 HDP supporters at the convention.

Buldan said the Ankara government had to make peace with the Kurds in Turkey and elsewhere in the region and the path to that end was democratization.

Onder, on his part, saluted Ocalan who serves a life sentence for “treason” since 1999.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, meanwhile, backed indictments against the HDP politicians.

Yildirim claimed the opposition party had lost legitimacy and judiciary would do “what is necessary.”

Last week, police arrested 12 HDP officials, and an investigation was launched into Serpil Kemalbay who stepped down from the party’s leadership.

Both Onder and Buldan were instrumental in the failed 2013-15 peace talks and a ceasefire between Erdogan’s government and PKK’s Ocalan as well as the armed group’s commanders in the mountains of the Kurdistan Region along the Iraq-Iran border.

Buldan, an MP for Istanbul, is also the Deputy Speaker of the Turkish Parliament from which seven of her fellow HDP lawmakers have been kicked out over statements courts have deemed as propaganda for terrorism.

She entered politics after Turkish paramilitary security forces abducted and extra-judicially executed her late husband Savas Buldan in 1994, one of 60 prominent Kurdish businessmen the then Prime Minister Tansu Ciller designated as a target for the Turkish state in a speech accusing them of funding the PKK.

The European Court of Human Rights in 2004 found the Turkish Government guilty of violating the right to life in the Buldan family’s appeal.

There are at least two other probes against the HDP’s new leader for alleged “terrorist propaganda.”

The party’s former Co-leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, along with eight lawmakers and 80 mayors, are already in prison since a state crackdown began in late 2016 over charges of separatism.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany