Crackdown on Kurdish politicians behind plunging Turkish lira - Demirtaş

The loss of more than 60 percent of value of the Turkish lira against the U.S. dollar since Nov. 2016 is closely related to the arrest of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ at the time, Demirtaş said in an interview on Tuesday.

The jailed former HDP co-chair’s remarks arrive as the lira dropped to for a ninth-straight day to as low as 8.5376 per dollar, a new record low.

“The fascistic order they wanted to set up after locking us up has destroyed whatever crumbs of democracy and rule of law had remained, crashing the economy in the meantime,” Demirtaş told Mezopotamya Agency.

“Those who delightedly support our imprisonment will pay out of their pockets to keep us behind bars every day,” the former leader of Turkey’s second-largest opposition bloc in parliament had said in an interview at the time of his arrest on Nov. 4, 2016. “And one day they will be left with nothing. Poverty will get the best of them, and they will ask themselves: What have we done?”

The imprisonment of Demirtaş and more than 10,000 members of the HDP, including former lawmakers, mayors and branch administrators, has “made it easier for (Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan) to institutionalise his one-man regime, Demirtaş said.

“Was it worth it, I want to ask those who sacrificed the law to put us in prison, and those who supported them,” Demirtaş said, adding that in addition to the deteriorating economy, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had lost a significant portion of its support.

The AKP has lost 21 percent of its 49 percent support, while HDP gained two more percentage points and is now supported by 13 percent of voters in Turkey, Demirtaş added.

“The smartest thing for the millions of people, the poor, the workers, is to ask if the bill the AKP racked up was worth it, and abandon the AKP as soon as possible,” he said.

Demirtaş said the political ploy that was the recent crackdown on his party, where dozens have faced arrest and prosecutors have taken the first steps to lift parliamentary immunity for HDP deputies, “will send the AKP government to the landfill of history, not end the HDP.”

HDP’s current co-chair, Pervin Buldan, in a speech at parliament on Tuesday said that a political coup was implemented against her party and the will of the people and parliament on Nov. 4, 2016. 

“This unlawful operation to take hostages was enacted against democratic politics, against democracy itself,” Buldan said.

The failed coup attempt of July 15, 2016 was transformed into a political coup on the day Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ were arrested, according to Buldan.

“None of the operations against HDP members has any basis in the law,” Demirtaş said, calling the arrest warrants issued for 82 members of the party over a series of protests that took place in 2014, known as the Oct. 6-8 Kobani incidents, “an absolute conspiracy that is illegal and politically motivated.”

The AKP had supported the Islamic State (ISIS) in campaign against Syrian Kurds, particularly in its siege of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, Demirtaş said, and the majority-Kurdish forces in northern Syria defeating ISIS had delivered a blow to the AKP.

“Since that day, they are trying to take revenge on Kurds using Kobani as an excuse. There is no legal basis for the Kobani arrests,” the former HDP co-chair said.

HDP members were the ones targeted and killed in dozens during the days of unrest that broke out over the ISIS siege of Kobani and Erdoğan saying the city was about to fall, Demirtaş said, adding, “Perpetrators and the whole truth will of course come to light in the post-AKP period.”

It would be pointless to expect justice from Turkey’s courts “under such conditions that the judiciary as an institution has collapsed,” according to Demirtaş.

“After the elections (scheduled for 2023), a new government that I hope will include the HDP may start a restructuring process with extensive democratic reforms, and maybe then the judiciary will recover,” he said.