Turkey’s Kurds defecting from ruling AKP over Afrin – HDP co-chair

The joint leader of Turkey’s majority-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), Pervin Buldan, said in an exclusive interview with Ahval that many of Turkey’s Kurds are defecting from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the wake of the military operation in Afrin.

“Afrin has created wide resentment among Kurdish AKP voters,” she said.

“We are hearing that those Kurds who usually vote for the AKP will not do the same in the next election.”

Turkish troops seized the Syrian town of Afrin from Syrian Kurdish forces on Sunday after a two-month cross-border offensive. Turkey’s government says the Syrian Kurdish militia that held Afrin, and the HDP, are linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has been fighting in Turkey for more than three decades.

Many conservative Kurds often vote for the AKP, ensuring the party normally comes second to the HDP in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast.

The HDP would work for both Turks and Kurds without discriminating, Buldan said.

“We have been underlining this in our politics right from the start. It is a fact that the AKP government has polarised society,” she said.

“Yes, there is a huge divide between Turkey’s east and west. But, we should not separate out the problems faced by Kurds and Turks living in Turkey”.

Buldan said her party was also working on building ties with other Kurdish political parties in Turkey’s southeast.

“We have stated that it is important to act together for the problems of the Kurdish population. They have a similar understanding. Since the sensitivities are the same, though there is no actual alliance at the moment, we will discuss and talk about the ways and means of acting together.”

Her party had been unable to protect the Kurdish population of Turkey against street violence and the 2015 renewal of hostilities between the state and the PKK in the southeast, she said, and in these circumstances politics itself had become extremely difficult.

“We are working against a system that detains everyone who goes into the streets (to campaign), even those informing people about our congress on the streets,” she said.

“If the circumstances were different, of course we could be more effective today on the field and through large rallies. But during this period under these difficult conditions, our first priority will be to reach people through neighbourhood and house meetings.”