Meral Danis Bestas: "We will collaborate with all groups regarding election security."
SEDA TASKIN- As the May 14 elections approach, parties are making their final preparations, from the process of selecting candidates within alliances to election security efforts. The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which is the most critical party in the elections, intensified its work after deciding to run under the Green Left Party umbrella. Group Deputy Chairman Meral Danis Bestas, who will not be a member of parliament in the next term due to the party's 'two-term' rule, evaluated her future role, the debates about the Workers’ Party of Turkey (TIP), the situation of MPs facing political bans in the context of the closure case, her party's work on election security, and many other current developments to Arti Gercek.
The HDP will run in the elections with the Green Left Party, but it is said that the two-term rule in the HDP will be implemented during this transition period. Are you also stuck with the two-term rule? Will this rule be strictly enforced, or will it be relaxed for some individuals?
"ONLY CO-CHAIRS WILL BE GIVEN EXCEPTION TO THE TWO-TERM RULE"
"Yes, our election commission has announced that the two-term rule, which is one of our principles, will be implemented. There is currently a consensus that this rule will be applied. An exception will only be made for co-chairs in the two-term rule. However, our election commission is still working and discussing all the details. I do not think it is appropriate for me to speak on behalf of the commission as I am not a member, but I can say for myself that I have been serving in the Parliament for two terms and have tried to fulfill the mandate given to me by the people to the best of my ability. I hope I have not let down the communities I represent or Turkey’s society as a whole. Ultimately, this is a handing over of the baton, and those who come after us will carry it forward in the best way possible."
"So, we won't be seeing you in the Parliament in the 28th term. What path will you follow from now on, will you return to your profession or continue in politics?"
"Throughout my life, I have been involved in human rights and politics. If you ask me, 'what is your identity?' I define myself as a lawyer, human and women's rights activist. I have been active in politics since 2009. I have worked at the Amnesty International, Human Rights Association, Bar Associations, and many national and international conferences before. I can say that my life is a field of struggle; it doesn't have to be active politics. Also, when we say politics, it doesn't necessarily mean being inside a party or being a deputy. We can fight side by side in every area. For me, political activity will not end with the end of my deputyship. As I have done before, I will always be in the midst of the struggle for justice, both in the party and in other areas."
'THE ATTITUDE OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT IS UNACCEPTABLE'
You were supposed to give an oral defense on April 11th as part of the HDP closure case, but you announced at the last minute that you would not give a defense. Why did you make this decision?
"We are in an election period, and we have a serious workload. We applied to the Constitutional Court three times regarding this matter. During the election period, we evaluated the continuation of this case, the request for a defense, as an intervention in the elections and a violation of fair trial. However, the Constitutional Court rejected our requests, ignoring the fact that political parties are indispensable elements of democratic life and many other issues. Currently, we are in the election campaign process and the Constitutional Court is essentially saying, 'I have a case in front of me, I haven't made a decision yet, but I can make a decision before or after the election.' Of course, this is unacceptable. Therefore, we decided not to give an oral defense."
"THE DEMAND FOR A POLITICAL BAN STARTS WITH DEMIRTAS"
Will the individuals who are subject to political bans in the context of the closure case be able to run as candidates for the Green Left Party?
The demand for political bans, like the closure case, is based on the complete elimination of democratic politics. None of us have committed any act or made any statement that would require a political ban. The demand for political ban starts with Demirtas and continues to our executives. However, there is no decision conveyed by our election and consensus commission to our Central Executive Board on this issue. However, if I express my personal opinion, I believe that this case was opened without any foundation, with conjunctural, subjective, and biased motives to increase polarization. In this regard, I think that the demand for political bans should not be taken too seriously. After all, there is a memory and experience in political parties. I believe that all of these should be taken into consideration.
"WE ARE A TRANSPARENT ALLIANCE"
On April 8, the Labor and Freedom Alliance is coming together again. Have all the problems in the Labor and Freedom Alliance been completely resolved? The TIP has decided to run in the election with a separate list. Will this have a negative impact on the Green Left Party?
"First of all, it should be stated that the Labor and Freedom Alliance is a struggle alliance. We did not come together only for the elections. Our first formation and our statements to the public were based on this struggle, and elections were discussed later. We will run in the elections under the name of the Labor and Freedom Alliance. There has been much discussion and criticism in the public about the TIP and us. Sometimes incidents occurred that even reached 'verbal attacks.’ However, as the HDP, we have never hidden our opinion because we are a transparent party and also a transparent alliance."
'WE ARE TRYING TO REACH AN AGREEMENT WITH THE TIP BASED ON MINIMUM RISK.'
“We discuss these issues on a democratic basis. We expressed our views on having the least possible loss in terms of the number of MPs and representation to fully reflect the will of the people. TIP stated that they are part of the alliance and want to enter the elections representing their party with their logo and identity. This is understandable, but we discussed the possibility of causing harm to each other. The situation has now gone beyond our discussions, and the Turkish public has brought this issue to its agenda outside our internal debates. Now, we are working on formulas that will affect each other in the minimum negative way. We are trying to reach an agreement based on minimum risk, and we have made significant progress in this regard. I believe that we will fight side by side in this struggle."
"IT BOTHERS ME WHEN THE LANGUAGE SUGGESTS THAT GREEN LEFT DOESN'T REPRESENT SOCIALISTS."
Some roadmaps have been leaked to the press, but we would like to hear it from you as well. What method will be followed during the election process?
"As the Green Left Party, we will run in the elections in all 81 provinces. We are in an alliance, but we will compete with the TIP in some electoral districts. We will have our own candidates, and they will have theirs. Therefore, as the Green Left Party, we will ask for votes for our own candidates."
"Another issue that has been discussed is the statements made by our TIP colleagues. Some of these statements have caused serious discomfort among our supporters. We understand this discomfort and we also do not deny it. Because the approach that 'the Green Left Party does not represent socialists' and statements along these lines certainly cause discomfort. The biggest issue in Turkey is the Kurdish issue. Democracy cannot be established without solving the Kurdish issue. We see all 84 million voters as our audience, and we address all of them. However, claims that the HDP only appeals to Kurds and receives votes from them or saying that it does not receive votes from non-Kurdish people, leftists, and socialists goes beyond what is intended."
'THIS KIND OF DISCUSSION BENEFITS NO ONE’
"We have worked and continue to work with these friends of ours. However, it should not be forgotten that two of the TIP members who made these statements were elected from our lists. We carried out this process through consensus. However, we received criticisms from different segments of Turkey due to these statements. For example, a woman in Mugla said that she lived there and was a socialist, and that our party was the only one she could vote for. I think that the discussion should be ended to prevent these discussions from causing harm to us. These discussions do not benefit anyone. We have a one-man regime in front of us, and we need to send it away and build democracy and peace in these lands."
'WE WILL ALSO COMPETE WITH TIP'
"We will now move forward. We have the Justice and Development Party (AKP) alliance that we are struggling against, the Nation Alliance that we are in serious competition with, and the Labor and Freedom Alliance with whom we will work shoulder to shoulder in the election campaign. There is one more detail here; if we run in the same cities with the Workers' Party of Turkey (TIP), we will also compete with them. From now on, my call to everyone is this: This issue has been discussed and brought to a conclusion. Ultimately, in line with this will, let's unite our forces to push back against fascism, establish democracy and peace, and resist and win together."
"WE HAVE BEEN SAYING FOR A LONG TIME THAT THE SOLUTION FOR THE KURDISH ISSUE LIES IN THE PARLIAMENT."
In his meeting with the HDP, Kilicdaroglu stated that the Kurdish issue should be resolved in the Parliament. What should Parliament do about this issue and how can it be resolved there?
"The Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) is the highest decision-making body where laws and the constitution are made, and where the people's will is represented. This is the case in all democracies. Since direct democracy is not possible, we must elect representatives through voting. The Kurdish issue is also a matter that needs to be resolved constitutionally. The details of this issue should be discussed and regulated through the constitution and laws. The Parliament has both Yozgat and Hakkari representatives. What is the Kurdish issue, why is there polarization and a conflict zone, and how can we meet the demands of the Kurds? The ultimate authority that should negotiate and decide on these issues is the Parliament. These issues are already being discussed everywhere and on all platforms, but the Parliament is the central location for finding a solution. By mentioning the Parliament, we mean that the problem can be discussed and placed in a constitutional and legal context through the elected representatives of the people. It is clear that this is what Kemal Kilicdaroglu meant.
We have experience in a solution process for this issue. Ocalan has been held in solitary confinement on Imrali Island as the leader of the [PKK} for 24 years, and as the leader, his word holds the most sway for the organization. We have always expressed our demand for peace, but we have no control over the [PKK]. We are working on a completely democratic political ground, and we have been saying for a long time that the place to solve the Kurdish issue is in the Parliament. We have always expressed our demand for the resolution of this issue in a non-violent, non-conflictual, and negotiation-based manner. There is no other meaning to the saying, 'The place to solve the problem is the Parliament.'"
"IF WE JOIN HANDS FOR ELECTION SECURITY, WE CAN ENSURE THAT NOT EVEN A STRAY BIRD WILL FLY AROUND THOSE BALLOT BOXES."
One of the most important topics related to elections is ballot box security. What kind of efforts are you making in this regard? There are also speculations, especially in the region, about what might happen on election day after Huda-Par joined the People's Alliance. What would you like to say about these speculations?
"These speculations are made in every election period, and questions arise about election security. I understand these doubts because the public receives a message from the AKP government that says, "We can do everything together with the MHP." There have been concerns, fears, suggestions, discussions, but they need to come to an end somewhere. We need to trust ourselves, we outnumber them. We have the people behind us. No power has yet been invented that can defeat the people or completely destroy their will. If we all work together for election security, we won't allow anything to happen at those ballot boxes."
LET'S PUT ASIDE THE FEAR OF 'THEY WILL DEFINITELY DO SOMETHING, AND WE WILL LOSE THE ELECTION.'
"As HDP, we are appointing ballot box officials, observers, lawyers, MPs and administrators for election security. Our election affairs commission is working on this issue. We will have our representatives at every ballot box and collaborate with every sector for election security. We have been consulting with platforms, NGOs, youth organizations and opposition parties for a long time. We don't necessarily have to be allies to collaborate on this issue. If I defend and protect their votes, they also need to protect and defend my votes.
I also want to make this call: let's put aside the fear of 'they will definitely do something, and we will lose the election.' No matter what they do, we will protect our ballot boxes by standing by them and using all our constitutional, legal, and election law rights. I have faith in ourselves and in our people on this matter."