Former Deputy HDP Group Chair İdris Baluken, who was a member of the İmralı Delegationat the time of the solution process, said that he was not at odds with his party but hadsuggestions. Baluken commented, “The bee that stung the dove of peace must lose both its sting and its strength. Difficulties may have been experienced for various reasons such as state of emergency conditions and the elections.”
The questions that we directed to the HDP’s Baluken via his lawyers, and his replies, were as follow:
What is your take on the last-minute annulment of your parliamentary candidacy for the 24 June elections?
I see it as being an entirely political decision. My being re-elected with our people’s massive support and returning to my political work above all to the parliamentary rostrum would have had an unacceptable political meaning for the ruling body. They thought that my re-election would amount to the bankruptcy of the political liquidation operations they are staging. There is no other explanation for the legal monstrosity of a court file being brought to finality in one day by the appeal court using copy and paste methods.
How do you assess the results that the HDP attained on 24 June?
I consider the result that the HDP attained on 24 June to be a most valuable statement of intent by our peoples who do not wish to lose their hope for the country and who maintain their faith in days of enlightenment. The result that the HDP attained has shown once again that fear cannot devour hope and darkness light. Each vote we garnered pointed to the sense of conviction behind the demand for equal living and the brothership of peoples. The vote received in the west of the country left its mark on the ballot boxes as our people’s reply to those who say the HDP has not managed to be a party of Turkey. But, the political rulership, rather than correctly reading the will of the people, organised itself with a view to voiding this intent. I still do not think they have absorbed and digested this. Furthermore, the high vote that the HDP received from the Kurdish people despite the unequal and unfair conditions, obstacles of all kinds and decisions to “transport ballot boxes” on the pretext of security has thwarted black propaganda of all kinds. It is possible to see the acute anger engendered by their absolute defeat in pronouncements by Erdoğan and AKP officials. What the election results mean in terms of democracy, human rights, the rule of law and separation of powers is self-evident anyhow. A historic duty and responsibility is incumbent on the HDP at this very point. Despite the duress and smears, the HDP must not forsake the trust of the sections of society that voted for it and must wage a decisive and pioneering struggle to champion democratic values. There is merit in this regard in a viewpoint that involves sizing up the qualitative dimension alongside the quantitative dimension of the votes garnered, because, if requirements in that sense are not met, there is greater risk than ever of losing the quantity that has been attained. Correctly reading and assessing the quantitative dimension alongside it will serve to create a struggle that is stronger than ever.
“The table will take the place of arms”
You are one of the important figures in the solution process. Do you think that your currently being in prison is related to the solution process?
The reply to this question is actually to be elicited from those who ended the solution process and sent me to jail. From our point of view, the solution process was a necessary and honourable endeavour for peace. It adopted dialogue and negotiation as the basis for solving problems and aimed at the definitive silencing of guns. But at the point reached with the ending of this process whose main agenda was democratization, harmony and lasting peace, the whole country has been left bereft of even the main headings on the agenda. The negative outlook being experienced today in the country in all areas, chiefly social peace, domestic politics, foreign politics and the economy, had its outset in the ending of the solution process. On ending the process, the AKP started its famous amok run that demolished social life in every field. The political crisis, democracy crisis, justice crisis and economic crisis came in succession as a result of this mad and murderous run. The AKP has heaped up a huge pile of ruins behind it and has itself fallen short of breath with its energy sapped. Under such circumstances, the country neither appears governable nor the prevailing conditions sustainable. To put an end to this entire negative spectacle, the thing that is more important than getting us out of jail is for a fresh page to be opened and this mad run ended for the good of the country. I believe that sooner or later the table will take the place of arms. Arms are bullets that take lives; tables, conversely, are ideas that touch on life. Paxton says that ideas are stronger than armies. Those who trust their ideas do not and should not run from the table.
“We were taken in by the figures”
As one included on the delegation, are there points about which you say, “If only we had done such-and-such at that time.”
We displayed a tremendous endeavour and effort in our duty of mediating between the parties that were carrying arms and in our duty as direct respondents who would make legal and constitutional preparations. These two areas of duty took the lion’s share of our time and energy. Because of this, we were wanting in what we saw as being the third duty of strengthening social support for the demand for peace. More correctly, we were taken in by mechanical indicators of the figures, such that most public opinion polls were showing support for the solution process having reached the level of 70-80%. Had we given priority to reaching out to the masses and politicizing the support they were displaying, rather than attaching excessive meaning to such data, we could have secured society’s guarantee for peace. Due to this, I of course find myself saying if only we had devoted more of our time and energy to this. And it should have made more contact with the women’s organizational process. Had success been achieved in this contact, fresh conflict could have been circumvented more forcefully. I am of the view that we needed to intensify far more the imparting of information just to women’s organizations so that women’s meetings and rallies would be held constantly and Mothers for Peace and Mothers of Soldiers would find direct inclusion in the process. When I watch from my cell women standing up for democratic rights on the street even under state of emergency conditions, I come to a greater realization of this shortcoming of ours, frankly.
“There is a need for an alliance rooted in the people”
There remains a short time until the local elections. Various discussions are being conducted as to whether the opposition parties will act jointly. What is your view?
Let me initially state that the opinions I will express are my personal thoughts and are not binding on the party’s official organs. The inclination to act jointly comes about on the basis of principles. You set out your minimum democratic norms and seek partnership with those who can accept them. If there is a plane on which unity is possible under such basic headings as peace policies, democratic steps, the norms of the rule of law and the separation of powers, alliance is to be sought. Otherwise, even certain comments you make with different intentions will come across as engaging in bargaining over votes, as was the case in the 24 June elections. Indeed, it will be used after the election to dismiss the result you obtain in the election. All the parties represented in a parliament that has lost its function appear to be far from such principled unity just now. There is thus a need for an extraparliamentary alliance rooted in the people that assembles around principles, an alternative path. Indeed, the HDP actually prioritizes reaching understanding with all sections of society that are waging the struggle for democracy. There is no need to await the local authority elections to combine and line up in struggle with all circles that are anxious for a democratic republic and stand for an enlightened future for the country. Indeed, not a single day must be wasted. Rather than winning municipalities, winning democracy must be set as an urgent goal as the attempt is made to destroy even its final remnants.
Nine-year prison sentence has attained finality
After the measures concerning the lifting of immunities came into effect, the HDP’s İdris Baluken was detained on 4 November 2016 along with many MPs from his party. Baluken, who was serving as Deputy HDP Group Chair at the time of his detention, was released on 30 January 2017 but redetained on 22 February 2017 following an objection by the prosecutor. He was blocked from standing for parliament after his nine year and two month prison sentence on the counts of “making terrorist organization propaganda” and “breach of the law on meetings and protest marches” attained finality two days after the announcement of the HDP’s list of candidates prior to the 24 June elections. İdris Baluken, who had been an HDP MP in the 24 th , 25 th and 26 th legislative periods, was included on the delegation that held talks both on İmralı and with the government at the time of the solution process that took place over 2013-2015.