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The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) of Turkey elected a new leader, following the resignation of the charismatic politician Selahattin Demirtas, who has been jailed for more than a year by government order.
The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) of Turkey today (11.02.2018) in Ankara elected two new leaders, Pervin Buldan and Sezai Temelli, replacing the team of Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yüksekdag, both detained in November 2016 and since then in preventive detention.
Selahattin Demirtas, long considered a promising opponent to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, confirmed his resignation through a message issued from the prison in Edirne, northwest Turkey. Demirtas, 43, was jailed in November 2016 on charges of terrorism. Under his leadership, the party achieved parliamentary representation for the first time.
Yüksekdag, meanwhile, was dismissed from her position by court order last May and then replaced by trade unionist and feminist Serpil Kemalbay, who now gives her position to Buldan.
The Democratic Party of the Peoples (HDP)
The Turkish government maintains that the HDP, which is still legally recognized as a party, has links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group. Although the HDP claims to be independent, thousands of its supporters have been arrested.
The HDP represents a strong opposition in Parliament to the Turkish military offensive in the Syrian enclave of Afrin, with which the Government aims to expel a Kurdish militia that it considers a “terrorist” organization, but which allied with Washington in the fight against the terrorist organization Islamic State (EI).
The new leadership
Buldan, who was born in 1967 in the province of Hakkari, in the extreme southeast of Turkey and almost entirely Kurdish population, has been for years one of the leading figures of the leftist Kurdish movement, and since 2007 is a deputy. The activist, whose husband, Savas Buldan, was kidnapped and murdered in 1994, founded the Yakay-Der association in 2001, which requires clarifying the circumstances of the thousands of disappearances and political assassinations of the 1980s and 1990s in Turkey.
Temelli, born in Istanbul in 1963 and PhD in Economics in the same city, was in 2012 one of the co-founders of the HDP. In June 2015 he won a seat in Istanbul but lost it again in the November elections of the same year. After the failed coup d’état in 2016, he was expelled from his position as vice-chancellor of the University of Istanbul by a decree issued under the state of emergency.