Turkey's second largest opposition party — the left-wing, Kurdish-led Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) — elected new leaders at its Third Congress on February 11, TheRegion.org said.
Authorities had tried to stop the congress by arresting hundreds of would-be attendees. Two days before the congress, police detained leading members of several Kurdish and leftist parties, HDP co-leader Serpil Kemalbay said.
Kemalbay was among 17 suspects facing arrest over their opposition to Turkey’s military offensive on Afrin in Syria’s north. More than 8000 HDP members — including dozens of elected officials — are already in jail.
The HDP is the only major political party to oppose the campaign in Afrin, dubbed Operation Olive Branch.
“The aim of these illegal and arbitrary operations is to prevent our congress being held in a healthy way,” Kemalbay said.
About 32,000 people were estimated to have attended the HDP’s congress. The party unanimously elected Istanbul lawmaker Pervin Buldan and deputy co-chair Sezai Temelli as the new leaders of the party.
Buldan’s husband was murdered in 1994, after the government said it had a list of businesspeople who were funding the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The killer was never identified.
Buldan commented: “Women know the real face of war. We lost our children, our homes, our partners. That’s why we say that women must be the vanguards of peace. We will resist fascism in Turkey to build the peace.”
In a speech to the congress, Temelli said: “Today, the people of Turkey have two choices. They will either choose the picture of hope and peace or they will be imprisoned by war politics under the pressure of fascism.”