‘We are winning!’: BDP prepares for another step forward in Kurdistan

By a KT Correspondent in Dyarbakir:

On top of the world: women and children show their support for the BDP

On top of the world: women and children show their support from a tower block roof in Dyarbakir today

Gültan Kışanak & Firat Anli speak to KT

On the eve of tomorrow’s crucial local elections, an open-topped Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) bus led a lively cavalcade around the city of Dyarbakir, north Kurdistan, today. As it passed through the centre and on to the working class suburbs, it blasted out songs of the PKK guerrilla struggle and of solidarity with the Kurds of Rojava (Syria) — and it grew.

Hundreds of cars and motor bikes, and even a tractor, joined the party. All along the way, local people stopped to beam smiles and give the two-fingered victory wave of the Kurdish freedom movement. They were showing their backing for the BDP’s joint mayoral candidates, Gültan Kışanak and Firat Anli, who were at the front of the bus waving back.

Everywhere in Dyarbakir today – down on the streets, inside buses, cars and lorries and up on the balconies and roofs of apartment blocks – men, women and children gave this victory salute. I mentioned to Semra that I could see from people’s eyes that the support was genuine and powerful. She replied: “I was looking into people’s eyes too and, as a Kurd, I could feel something else. These people were saying to me, ‘We are winning!’”

As the bus headed back to party HQ,  Gültan Kışanak and Firat Anli both spoke to KT:

Gültan Kışanak (co-mayoral candidate and co-chair of the BDP):

KT: It was striking today how much support the BDP has from women – why is this?

GK: The Kurdish freedom movement has enabled women to get their identity and confidence and this is getting stronger everyGültan Kışanak day. For this election we are operating the co-chair system which gives women equity and they feel equal. Dyarbakir is a city where women feel very confident and can be involved in political parties, NGOs and society.

KT: It has been a long struggle for Kurds. Is it realistic to be optimistic?

GK: We have had a very long struggle. Every time Kurds move ahead, step by step, without waiting for Ankara. We are used to Ankara treating us like this. We are confident that, as long as we move forward, Ankara will come behind us. It happens all the time. They resisted any change but had to change in the end.

Firat Anli (co-mayoral candidate):

Firat AnliKT: What is the significance of this election?

FA: The BDP and HDP will get the best vote ever tomorrow. This election is important because it is about the status of the Kurdish people. The Kurdish population here is the biggest group in the Middle East without status. In south Kurdistan, Kurds have status, there is now a federation of cantons in Rojava, and it’s our turn now.

KT: Hasn’t the peace process stalled?

FA: We know the government hasn’t taken the necessary steps. They don’t have a serious project for the peace process. During the election campaign, prime minister Erdogan seems to be supporting the peace process but he needs to take steps after it. First, the government has to recognise the political and cultural rights of Kurds. Second, there must be legal steps for releasing prisoners, and this includes Mr Ocalan. There also needs to be positive discrimination for Kurds.

KT: What if the government doesn’t deliver anything?

FA: If they don’t, the Kurdish problem will become the biggest problem for this country.

A victory salute on the BDP campaign bus

Victory salute on the campaign bus

The interviews were translated into English by Semra.

More on-the-spot KT coverage of the campaign:

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