Kurdish leader calls for NO vote in upcoming Turkish presidential referendum

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Selahattin Demirtas, co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democracy Party (HDP) and presidential candidate, speaks during an election rally in Diyarbakir, August 8, 2014. File photo: Reuters

ARA News

The imprisoned leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş on Tuesday called on Kurds, Turks, Alevis, Sunnis, members of the AKP, CHP, MHP and HDP to vote “No” in the upcoming Turkish presidential referendum that will take place on 16 April.

“You are all witnessing that we are experiencing historical moments that we are in the midst of a challenging period of struggle,” he said. “The most fundamental foundation of the AKP government is to create an atmosphere of fear, and to make everyone feel that fear.”

“During such periods, to feel afraid of the government and the power it wields is no doubt quite natural, and human; however, do not forget that courage, too, is human, and the only way not to pass on this fear to our children is to act with courage,” Demirtaş said.

“Unfortunately, the tyranny of this government, and its ability to implement unlawful practices has been made possible by these cowards. To have us arrested, in an unlawful, illegal manner upon the orders of the government was an act of cowardice and incompetence,” he said about the hundreds of journalists, politicians, teachers, and activists who were imprisoned by the government.

“Everyone should rest assured that we will hold these cowards to account in the presence of a fair and impartial judiciary,” the imprisoned Kurdish leader added.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Turkish government has jailed 13 members of the pro-Kurdish democratic opposition in parliament on terrorism charges and taken direct control of 82 municipalities in the Kurdish southeast region, suspending and incarcerating elected mayors.

“The crackdown on democratically elected officials not only violates their rights to political association and participation, and freedom of expression, but also interferes with the rights of constituents who voted for them and whom they serve in office,” HRW said, suggesting the crackdown was related to the upcoming referendum.

“Our people acted much more bravely than these cowards and has defeated fear. The state has settled within the judiciary and the media, and history will no doubt remember with great shame this particular group of actors who fail even to lift their bowed heads,” Demirtaş said. “I exonerate those who, in the judiciary and the media, preserve the honour of fair action as I state this.”

“In such an atmosphere, I congratulate our millions of citizens who both inside and outside Turkey have refused to surrender to fear, who have resisted, and have represented the dignity of courage. Turkey’s democratic future has so far been determined by those who have resisted, and those who resist will continue to determine that future,” he said.

“As the referendum date draws near, I invite everyone to defeat this fear, go to the ballots and say ‘NO’ to fear. Courage is contagious. Let us all, Kurds, Turks, Alevis, Sunnis, members of the AKP, CHP, MHP or HDP, stand in solidarity without distinction, and infect each other with courage. Rest assured, the good will win, we will all win. We will definitely win,” the imprisoned leader said.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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