İnce and Demirtaş wives give a lesson in solidarity

As the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Muharrem İnce arrived in southeast Turkey to address crowds on a busy presidential election campaign, his wife Ülkü headed for another type of visit that could be just as significant in the run up to the Jun. 24 presidential and parliamentary elections.

The husband and wife were in Diyarbakır, the southeast Turkish city known as the centre of the country’s Kurdish region, and the home of Başak Demirtaş, whose husband Selahattin is running as the presidential candidate for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) from his cell in Edirne Prison.

The two candidates’ wives met at the Demirtaş home during Muharrem İnce’s speech on Monday evening, and held the meeting privately.

Başak Demirtaş had invited the Muharrem and Ülkü İnce to visit in May, after the CHP candidate visited her husband in prison on, where he is being held pending trial for alleged activities for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey for decades.

Many in Turkey see the prosecution of Demirtaş and other HDP politicians as a political move by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to weaken the opposition, and İnce and other politicians have called for his release.

Selahattin Demirtaş called Muharrem İnce’s visit an example of “human solidarity,” and Ülkü İnce expressed similar sentiments during a short press briefing after the meeting.

“This wasn’t a political meeting, but a human one,” said İnce.

“Mrs. Başak is a teacher, and so am I. We held the meeting as a form of women’s and teachers’ solidarity,” she said, adding that if President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s wife Emine were in the same situation, she would visit her as well.

Başak Demirtaş thanked Ülkü in a tweet, expressing the importance of friendship and human values above enmity in politics.

Muharrem İnce and allied parties have so far run an opposition campaign that has exceeded expectations, in large part thanks to a sense of unity.

While the HDP is not a part of the CHP’s “Nation Alliance,” HDP votes will be vital if no clear winner emerges in the presidential election, in which case a head-to-head run off will be held between the top two candidates, likely Erdoğan and İnce.