The People's Democratic Congress (HDK) held its first meeting upon the call of Independent Deputy of the Labour, Democracy and Freedom Block for Mersin, Ertuğrul Kürkçü, Co-Chair of the Peace and Democracy Party Gültan Kışanak, Istanbul Deputy of the Block Levent Tüzel and Deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder. The initiative convened at the Anatolian Exhibition Centre in Ankara on Saturday and Sunday (15/16 October).
More than 800 delegates from 20 different regions participated in the meeting. Turkish, Laz, Syriac, Arabic, Armenian, Circassian, Georgian, Alevi, Nusayri, Roma, Greek, Pomak, African and Yezidi delegates were welcomed in their mother languages.
The first meeting of the HDK was also attended by Ahmet Türk and Aysel Tuğluk, Co-Chairs of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), MPs Hasip Kaplan, Sırrı Süreyya Önder, Sebahat Tuncel, Ertuğrul Kürkçü and Nursel Aydoğan as well as Labour Party (EMEP) Chair Selma Gürkan, Socialist Democracy Party Chair Rıdvan Turan, Chair of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Public Employees (KESK) Lami Özgen, Head of the Human Rights Association (İHD) Öztürk Türkdoğan and many representatives of other political parties, non-governmental organization and trade unions.
The message "We are uniting!" was posted at the meeting hall in 13 different languages. Several other banners conveyed the main concerns of the Congress Initiative reading, "We unite for a peaceful and democratic solution of the Kurdish question", "We unite against homophobia and transphobia", "We unite against the attacks and invasion of imperialism", "We unite for equality and freedom of the people and beliefs", "We unite against inequality and gender discrimination of male dominance" or "We unite for democracy".
The Congress Council is going to be presided over by BDP Deputy Akın Birdal. Elected members of the council are academic Fatma Gök, journalist İnci Hekimoğlu, singer Suavi and Ümit Şahin of the Green Party. The two-day congress had the aim to discuss the draft statutes of the initiative, to define details of their aims and areas of struggle and to tackle issues like becoming a political party.
Kürkçü : "A socialist is obliged to know the rights of all peoples"
Block MP for Mersin Ertuğrul Kürkçü as one of the initiators said in his speech that they were excited but also wary. He expressed his hope that this time they would be able to achieve their aim with this new line they took.
"We are setting out together with all the peoples who stood up for freedom to live for ourselves and to become the master of our own. We do not put labour rights against social rights. This struggle is the peoples' struggle for freedom; it inevitably brings workers closer together. You cannot call somebody a socialist who is fighting for the rights of the Yezidi, the Greek, the Armenians and the Kurds. A socialist is obliged to know the rights of the life of all peoples", Kürkçü declared.
"Turks will not be free before Kurds are not free" Kürkçü indicated and also emphasized that any social struggle could only be successful with the support of women adding that the executives of this movement were women.
Kışanak: 'The obligation of a historical output'
BDP Co-Chair Gültan Kışanak talked about the obligation of a historic output at a historical moment. He expressed his hope that the Congress was going to shape the social dynamics of Turkey in the 21st century and that it was going to turn out as a strong resistance and a strong will. "Just in this situation we can truly fulfil our mission on behalf of all the oppressed", Kışanak stated.
Block MP and co-initiator of the Congress Levent Tüzel announced that the unity of the Congress was going to carry brotherhood and the struggle for freedom to a more advanced point. Tüzel drew attention to the government's attacks on labour rights saying "The Congress Initiative stakes the claim for our languages and our cultures. We see the Congress Initiative as a united movement against government policies that incite workers, labourers and the people against each other. (...) Our Congress will fulfil a very important task by becoming the spokesperson of the people".
Önder : "Down with your government"
Istanbul Deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder, himself part of the group of initiators, greeted all revolutionary groups and particularly the Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP), the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) and the People Front who all kept their distance to the Congress. "I hope that our ways will meet one day". Önder said.
Regarding claims of envisaging a new government Önder replied, "Down with your government. We will create a new system of course". (MAF/EKN)
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