Women from the UK send open letter in support of the HDP

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign - Women Alliance sent an open letter to support the HDP. 

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign - Women Alliance sent an open letter to support the HDP. 

The letter said: "Despite being thousands of miles away from you in the UK we want you to hear our voices raised in your support. We stand with you now in this critical time for the HDP as you face the final threat of closure. We as women both individually and from the organisations listed below salute the HDP and in particular what you have done to advance the cause of women across Turkey and by example for women across the world."

The letter continued: "We women make up more than half the world population yet we remain suppressed, by virtue of being women. You have shown us how the struggle to assert our rights can be conducted."

Baroness Christine Blower read an extract of the letter.

The letter added: "In Turkey we have witnessed an ever-accelerating rise in femicide, domestic violence, and anti-women policies which are aimed at suppressing Kurdish women and Turkish women generally and you have been at the forefront of the struggle to turn the tide. The decision by President Erdogan to repudiate the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, the Istanbul Convention, in the light of the continuing rise in femicide in Turkey is shocking and sends a clear message to the women of Turkey: the State will not protect you. It has been inspirational to see a party, the HDP, with women at every level of leadership, confront these developments. 

Leyla Guven, for example, continues to inspire us from her prison cell with her undying commitment to defend freedom and to fight against the patriarchal mentality that is so evident in the AKP leadership. We salute all the HDP women, whether they were democratically elected to the Turkish parliament, or to the local administrations, or whether they are local activists and party members; whether they are now in prison or still at liberty and continuing the struggle on the outside. 

 Historically, Turkey has a low representation of women in parliament. In 2020 only 17% of seats were held by women. The HDP has directly confronted this and sought to rectify it by implementing gender inclusive policies in the running of the party and in the leadership of local authorities. This includes the HDP’s co-chair system in which a man and woman are co-chairs of the party and of many local authorities. The HDP aims to maintain a quota of nearly 50% of female MP candidates and 10% of members from the LGBTQ+ community. Never has this approach been more deeply needed. 

In the UK we will continue to speak out for you and spread the message about what you are seeking to achieve in Turkey , to put pressure on our government to support the HDP and to condemn Turkish State policies that fly in the face of what liberal democracies claim to hold dear. We will continue to call for the release of Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, the original Co-Chairs of the party. We condemn the UK’s complicity in Turkish State crimes by its silence, its arms trading and its trade deals and we will continue to demand a more honest and ethical approach to relations between the UK and Turkey." 

The signatories are as follows:

Baroness Blower of Starch Green

Julie Ward -former MEp for North West England

Margaret Owen OBE

Clara Bennathan

Rahila Gupta, journalist, writer 

Southall Black Sisters

Clare Baker, UNITE the Union International Officer

Women Defend Rojava UK

Melanie Gingell 

Professor Mary Davis

Isabel Käser, Visiting Fellow, LSE

Dr. Dana Pietsch, Geographer, Asylum centre Tübingen e.V. and University of Tübingen, Germany

Lindsey German, Convenor STWC

Maggie Cook, UNISON, Trade Union Activist 

Pat Heron, Chair of Unison Northern Region Women's Network 

Debra Stanislawski, lawyer

Janet Biehl, writer, artist

Dr Camilla Power

Jan Woolf, writer

Penelope Dimond, actress, writer