HDP Istanbul Co-Chair Encu discusses his party’s critical role in the 2023 election

HDP Istanbul Co-Chair Encu discusses his party’s critical role in the 2023 election
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“We will not vote for people or for parties, but for principles.”

ROZERIN YUKSEL- A few days ago in Istanbul, police officers attacked a group holding a “Justice Watch” for sick prisoners. The moment that a police officer insulted and slapped Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Istanbul Provincial Office Co-Chair Ferhat Encu was captured on video. The cameraman recording the incident, Mehmet Zeki, was taken into custody. The day after the event, Encu was once again taken into custody before being released. Encu, who spoke to GercekNews, shared his reaction to the arrest on social media saying, “After a few hours of imprisonment, we are free once more. One day, these injustices will surely be accounted for.”

On December 28, 2011, 34 people, 28 of whom were from the same family, from the Roboski and Bujeh villages in Sirnak's Uludere district were killed by airstrikes. Encu also lost 11 of his relatives in the Roboski massacre. He was elected as HDP’s Sirnak Deputy in the June 7, 2015 elections. Afterwards, he joined Parliament as HDP Deputy in the November 1 elections. Currently, Encu works as the HDP Istanbul Provincial Co-Chair.

"This attack is a reflection of the AKP-MHP government's past seven to eight years of war policy on the ground."

“The point in question is the systematic violence against all segments of the public, all fields of democratic politics, and people who speak out against the AKP-MHP regime. This is how the state’s authority expresses itself. This attack is the way in which the AKP-MHP’s regime’s past seven to eight years of war policy manifests on the ground.”

Encu spoke to GercekNews of the police brutality he experienced while attending the Justice Watch.

Encu expressed that they had been supporting the struggle of the relatives of sick prisoners, who have been protesting for some time, and noted that the protestors invited the HDP Istanbul Provincial Office to Kadikoy Square on the 11th week of the Justice Watch.

“They were seeing red the moment we appeared and began to attack the mothers. They tried to lay the youth on the ground to assault them. The officer we had come across multiple times at other demonstrations called my name, said ‘We’re going to make you pay for this,’ and began to kick me. I tried to distance myself, after which he cursed at me. I warned him not to use foul language, and then he attacked me.”

This attack is Kurd-hatred manifested on the streets.

"This is not the first time I have been attacked by police. Unfortunately, I am someone who has been subjected to police brutality countless times. They also jumped on the cameramen who was recording the incident. At that point, six to seven officers tried to tackle me to arrest me. This attack is Kurd-hatred manifesting itself on the street. This is the consequence of a policy that denies one hundred years of murder.”

Is disproportionate police violence, the continuation of the detention of Sebnem Korur Fincancı' the President of the Turkish Medical Association, the operations against the Democratic Regions Party (DBP), the climate of fear, and other such events part of a strategically created atmosphere in the time leading up to the 2023 elections?

"In the time leading up to the elections, they become even more reckless because they know they have already lost. They are trying to cover up the economic crisis. The arrest and detention of Sebnem for simply expressing the truth, the detention of the DBP Co-Chair, operations against DBP offices in many provinces, threats of violence against Rojava, and war policies developed indefinitely in Kurdistan in the lead up to the election shows that the AKP-MHP government is trying to create a result. Because they know that in a democratic election, their chances of winning are zero.”

Encu, who noted that the elections are taking place in an atmosphere that is undemocratic said, “Now, in the elections that are a matter of struggle between existence and eradication, we will either choose a bright future or the very depths of a dark period. The AKP knows this very well: the past seven to eight years of lawlessness will be accounted for, all the corruption files will be unearthed, the people will not leave unquestioned the injustices in this country. Since they know what will befall them should they lose, they will surely put into motion any dirty tricks they can to ensure a victory.”

"Tanju Ozcan is a sworn enemy to the Kurds."

You received messages of solidarity regarding the incident with the police from many groups, but Bolu Mayor Tanju Ozcan, who has been suspended from the Republican People's Party (CHP) for a year, defended the officer's violence by saying "he did too little." What do you think about this?

“There are unfortunately thousands of Tanju Ozcan’s in this country. There is a portion of the public that is fueled by racism and fascism. How can Tanju Ozcan create a sense of self? If not through anti-Kurdish sentiment or discrimination towards immigrants, he would have to strengthen himself by creating some other form of enemy. He is a sworn enemy to the Kurds. I do not think it is necessary to evaluate this issue using Tanju Ozcan as a metric. However, even if he was suspended from the CHP for a year, he will, in the end, be back with the party after the year is up. Yes, many deputies from the CHP sent solidarity messages on this issue, but a mayor from their wing also sent a message not only defending police violence but also insulting me. The CHP needs to rid itself of this handicap. They should either align themselves with Tanju Ozcan or express that someone of his ilk has no societal value and cannot be a leader.”

"We will not vote for people or for parties, but for principles."

What path will the HDP pursue in the election season? How will the Kurdish electorate’s concerns be addressed?

“When we look at public opinion polling, we see that the HDP pays a key role and that only the HDP will be the deciding factor in who loses. We are concerned with this system more than we are with the AKP-MHP regime. No matter who comes to power, this system breeds enmity towards Kurds, poverty, unemployment, and labor exploitation. We are aware that the AKP-MHP represent the system. That being said, we believe that all the problems in this country need to be solved. Any political party that does not take these issues seriously should not think that they will come to power. We will not vote for people or for parties, but for principles.”

Encu, who emphasized that no political party which does not promise democracy can come to power, criticized the discourses of the opposition:

“Sometimes they come out and say, ‘we will bring about a parliamentary system.’ But who will have a place in such a system? Will there be a diversity in belief or ethnic identity in this parliamentary system? They say they will end poverty. How? By cleansing the system of the AKP personnel or by bringing about a democratic constitution to create a system based on meritocracy? I do not believe a position espousing the removal of the AKP staff or its bureaucracy with the goal of eliminating poverty to be a realistic one.”

"We will take no part in any initiative that is not in the best interest of our people."

“The Kurdish public has concerns and anxieties, but ultimately, we have an electorate which thinks politically, knows very well the pasts of all political parties, analyzes them, and understands the significance and the consequences of their every step. We will take no part in any initiative that is not in their best interest.”

“Both blocs are aware that without the HDP, they will not win. Thus, they should be aware that the values, demands, and principles expressed by the HDP should be taken seriously. Undoubtedly, Imamoglu, Aksener, Kılıcdaroglu, Mansur Yavas — these names will continue to be a topic of debate. Our stance is clear. We do not want far-right fascism to come to power again in this country, and we do not want someone with such values to sit in that chair.”