Turkish presidential candidate makes TV speech from prison

2018-06-18 10:27

Turkey's state broadcaster aired a campaign speech by a jailed presidential candidate on Sunday, a week before snap parliamentary and presidential elections.

Selahattin Demirtas asked voters in the June 24 elections to prevent the "one-man regime" of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He called Turkey's current climate a "teaser" and warned that "the actual scary part of the movie has not yet begun".

Broadcaster TRT recorded the 10-minute speech at a prison in western Turkey where Demirtas is being held on charges of alleged terrorism. He can run for office because he hasn't been convicted of any crime.

The 45-year-old candidate for the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, or HDP, says he was detained "illegally" 20 months ago because the government fears him.

The government has clamped down on the HDP, alleging it has links to outlawed Kurdish rebels, which Turkey deems terrorists. The HDP denies involvement in any illegal activists and says the crackdown is really meant to suppress opposition. Nine lawmakers and nearly 4 700 party administrators and activists have been jailed.

The crackdown followed the collapse of a peace process with Kurdish insurgents in the summer of 2015, leading to the resumption of a three-decade-long conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Demirtas said a vote for Erdogan and the ruling party would leave "the fate of 81 million to one person's mercy". He warned that no institution would be able to oversee or limit Erdogan if the president wins the election.

By law, each presidential candidate is entitled to 20 minutes of free airtime on public TV. The next round of speeches will take place a day before the elections.

The elections, moved up by more than a year, will usher in an executive presidency for Turkey. Under the new system of governance abolishing the prime minister's post, the president will be able to appoint ministers, issue decrees, prepare the budget and decide on security policies.

News coverage of the election campaigns has been lopsided in favour of Erdogan, with mainstream television channels broadcasting his daily speeches live. His opponents, especially Demirtas in prison, have been struggling to have their voices heard.

Demirtas said a vote for him as president and the HDP for parliament would be a chance for peace.

"Don't forget, everything changes with you," he said. He urged people to vote and protect the ballot boxes.

Demirtas, a human rights lawyer, ran against Erdogan in Turkey's first direct presidential election in 2014, getting just under 10% of the votes. He and HDP co-leader Figen Yuksekdag, who is jailed, led their left-leaning party to parliament in two general elections during 2015.

Demirtas told supporters: "As long as you are free, I will be free."

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    turkey

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

HSE Manager

Cape Town
Tumaini Consulting
R550 000.00 - R650 000.00 Per Year

SQL Reporter

Cape Town
Communicate Cape Town IT
R10 000.00 - R12 000.00 Per Month

Cluster Financial Manager

Cape Town
Network Finance
R950 000.00 - R1 000 000.00 Per Year

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.