KNK: Stop Erdogan’s coup in Van and stand up for democracy

Today is the day of solidarity, said the KNK, calling on members of national parliaments, governments, trade unions, civil society organizations, bar associations and political parties to take a stand against flagrant lawlessness.

Kurdish politician Abdullah Zeydan, who ran as co-mayor with Neslihan Şedal for the DEM party and won the election with a large majority, was stripped of his civil rights by order of the Turkish government and replaced by the AKP candidate who was given the certificate of appointment as mayor. The protests in Van and many other cities against the appointment of AKP candidate Abdulahat Arvas as mayor continue. 

The Executive Council of the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) released a statement calling for solidarity against the Erdoğan regime’s flagrant lawlessness that ignores the will of the people.

Noting that the Peoples' Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party achieved a significant victory in the local elections held in Turkey on March 31, 2024, KNK said that the DEM Party’s electoral strategy, in which its voters supported opposition CHP candidates, prevented Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling AKP-MHP alliance from winning the municipalities of major cities like Istanbul and Ankara. The DEM Party itself won 81 municipalities in Kurdistan.

The result in Van province stood out. DEM Party candidates won the Van Metropolitan Municipality and all fourteen district municipalities. The DEM candidate for Van Metropolitan Municipality, Mr Abdullah Zeydan, won 55.5% of the vote. The AKP candidate came in a distant second with just 27.2% of the vote. However, per the Justice Ministry’s order, the Van Provincial Election Board ruled on April 2 to hand the “certificate of election,” a document that signifies the elected candidate’s right to govern, to the second-place AKP candidate. 

“The legal reasoning behind this move was extremely faulty. Mr. Zeydan applied on time, received his appeal documents, finalized the restitution of his divested rights, and campaigned for months.  It is obvious that this is a political attack on the right of voters in Van to choose their representatives and has nothing to do with the law,” said the KNK statement, which further included the following:

“The Erdoğan regime has now trampled on the will of the Kurdish people and the voters of Van for the third time in the past 10 years. It is well past time for the dictatorial practices of the fascist AKP-MHP regime to come to an end. 

The Kurdish people and their allies are on the front lines of the global fight for democracy today. The international community must not let them do so alone. Standing together with the DEM Party against this coup can help move Turkey towards democracy and will signal to autocrats everywhere that stealing elections has consequences. 

The UN, the Council of Europe and the EU, of which Turkey wants to become a member, must support the Kurdish people and the principles of democracy in Turkey against Erdoğan’s authoritarianism. They must not waste time in taking action. There have been frightening signs since yesterday that special paramilitary units are being deployed in Kurdistan to prevent the Kurds from standing up for their democracy and their fundamental civil rights. These units were responsible for thousands of assassinations and disappearances of Kurdish politicians, activists, and civil society leaders in Kurdistan in the 1980s and 1990s. Curfews and travel bans are being imposed to prevent information from coming out of the region. We fear that they may return to such tactics again.”

The statement concluded: “We call on members of national parliaments, governments, trade unions, civil society organizations, bar associations and political parties: Today is the day of solidarity. Please take a stand against the Erdogan regime’s flagrant lawlessness that ignores the will of the people. Democratic societies must stand together with the DEM Party, Kurdish voters, and all defenders of democracy in Turkey and Kurdistan.”