More than 20,000 people attended the fourth congress of the left-wing People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey on February 23. Participants included more than 1000 delegates and at least 100 international guests from more than 25 countries.
Opposition to fascism and authoritarianism and support for peace were strong themes of the congress. This is a direct response to the authoritarianism of the Turkish regime, which has arrested more than 5000 HDP members, including elected mayors and parliamentarians.
Participants at the congress had to defy a huge police presence just to enter the venue and 14 people have been arrested since the congress in a further attempt at intimidation.
The mood at the conference, however, was optimistic and defiant. Re-elected co-chair Pervin Buldan told the gathering that “the courage of thousands will become the courage of millions”.
She also highlighted the important role of women in creating and building the HDP: “Against those who want to condemn women into darkness, we’re going to make this the century of putting women at centre stage.”