For the sixth day in a row, demonstrators gathered in Rojava Square, in a residential area of ​​Diyarbakir, Turkey’s largest Kurdish city. On June 17, the assassination of young activist Deniz Poyraz by an ultranationalist in Izmir, at the headquarters of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), caused fear and anger among members and supporters of the Kurdish cause. , carried in particular by this leftist party.

“United against fascism! “Chanted in chorus the thirty people present, quickly surrounded by the police dispatched by the hundreds to the site. The cordon of activists, deputies at the head, sketch a few steps, but the games are played in advance.

→ READ. Turkey: the Prokurdian party marches for democracy

On both sides, the protagonists seem weary, tired of replaying a scene with an unchanged scenario. The demonstration ended without clashes or tear gas. Everyone prefers to go home. Several residents refuse to testify for fear of reprisals if the police were to catch them speaking to the foreign press. Semra Güzel and Remziye Tosun, two HDP MPs, will continue the evening at one of them, a few steps away.

The result of a long marginalization of the party

The apartment is large, the tiled floors and walls have been refurbished. A parakeet sits on the hall cabinet and chirps when the door opens. Impatient children run into the hall to claim their mother. A television screen sizzles at the back of the room, showing images of fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Ankara’s bête noire.

“We know that the murder of Deniz Poyraz is not an isolated act”, denounces the first. “The parties of the AKP (Editor’s note: that of President Erdogan) and the MHP (Editor’s note: his far-right ally) are the instigators in our eyes. “ For the two elected officials, the drama is the result of the marginalization suffered by their party in reaction to its triumphant entry into Parliament in 2015.

Lack of consensus within the government coalition

The members of the Prokurdian party did not have time to mourn. On Monday, June 21, the Turkish Constitutional Court announced that it was validating legal proceedings that could lead to the dissolution of their party. The ruling coalition accuses him of being a “Showcase of terrorism” of the PKK, which has been leading a bloody guerrilla war in the Southeast since 1984.

With 6 million voters, the HDP is above all the second opposition force to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Its 55 deputies may even be deprived of any participation in political life. “I am not sure that there is a consensus within the government coalition on this matter”, analysis Vahap Coskun, professor of law at the University of Dicle, the Turkish name of the Tiger, which crosses Diyarbakir. «But since December, the MHP has not stopped demanding it, to the point of making it, in my opinion, a condition of its engagement in the coalition.. »

Unlike its ultranationalist ally, the AKP has a significant reservoir of voices in the Kurdish regions. But according to opinion polls, the closure of the HDP would precipitate its fall a little more in the south-east of the country, in particular for the presidential election scheduled for 2023, vital for Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Like many observers, Vahap Coskun interprets the ongoing legal proceedings as a way for the AKP to buy time without losing its ultranationalist support, which guarantees its majority in Parliament. Regularly referred to as the main challenge for Turkish domestic policy, the resolution of the “Kurdish question” has seldom seemed so distant.


“We are witnessing an endless drift”

Marc Pierini, diplomat, associate researcher at the Carnegie Europe center

“The harassment of HDP members, which can go as far as the assassination and possible dissolution of their party, is a new signal of an endless drift by Turkey. Since the election of Joe Biden in the United States, President Erdogan has embarked on a charm operation by stopping insults and military provocations. But the very cold press release from the European Council on Friday 25 June shows that this is not enough: the Europeans are applying a “positive” agenda with regard to refugees, but everything else is frozen. The preconditions laid down for the negotiation of a customs union are not fulfilled and the degradation of the rule of law is contrary to the commitments made by Turkey within the framework of the Council of Europe and NATO. The Turkish authorities are locked in triumphalist narratives but in reality, the problem continues to worsen. “

Interview by Anne-Bénédicte Hoffner


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