Turkey’s elections board ruled that 12 Kurdish and socialist politicians running as independent candidates in national elections set for June were ineligible to run for parliament because of their prior convictions. Kurdish BDP and a block of socialist parties had joined forces to run as independent candidates due to a 10% nationwide threshold to enter the parliament.
Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair of BDP said the election board’s decision is “a political operation, a political removal” that would benefit the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the elections. Barred candidates include Gültan Kışanak, Sabahat Tuncel, Leyla Zana, Hatip Dicle, Ertuğrul Kürkçü, İsa Gürbüz, and Salih Yıldız. BDP officially will appeal the decision at elections board. The party also considers boycotting the elections altogether.
Pursuant to decision thousands hit streets in protests in Southeastern Turkey. In Istanbul hundreds of protesters marched from Taksim square within an hour of the declaration organizing in Twitter shouting “No Kurds, No Peace.” There will also be a meeting at the same venue at noon today.
For decades Turkey has hidden discriminatory and oppressive policies towards religious and ethnic minorities behind a democratic façade through a set of legislated but unimplemented set of laws. Turkish governments have ages old habit of preserving their rule by bending or by blatantly breaching the democratic convention. Latest decision by the elections board is seen as a memorandum against civilian forces in the country by so-called “deep state”, a formation within the state controlling every strategic move in Turkey. It is also seen as a provocation to inflame guerilla warfare by autonomist PKK to crush democratic Kurdish initiative.