The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) convenes for its third annual congress today to elect party leaders. Kurdish lawmaker Pervin Buldan and party co-founder Sezai Temelli have been nominated to assume co-leadership.
This congress comes after 17 HDP members were detained after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “Operation Olive Branch” in Syria began on January 20. Ankara has made clear that protesting the offensive campaign to push out Kurdish YPG militants will result in arrest.
HDP detainees join incumbent HDP leader Selahattin Demirtas, who has been imprisoned since the July 2016 attempted coup, facing charges for supposed links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party. Demirtas has declined running for reelection, hoping the party can mobilise its political efforts and public support ahead of the 2019 presidential elections; however, the party’s effectiveness is stunted as long as its MPs are being continually incarcerated.
Optimistically, the appointment of new leaders will thaw tensions between Mr Erdogan and the Kurdish opposition, encouraging peace talks between Kurds and Ankara if Erdogan seeks to placate pro-Kurdish voters. However, his recent partnership with the far-right Nationalist Movement Party could thwart any pro-Kurdish agenda.
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Bibi contributes to our analysis of European affairs for The Daily Brief. She also serves as a copy editor for the publication.