“Everyone has made mistakes in the past. We should learn lessons from our ancestors who are buried in Çanakkale together,” Demirtaş wrote on his official Twitter account following a meeting with his lawyers in the Edirne Prison on June 18.
Referring to the Battle of Gallipoli, which took place during the First World War in today’s western Turkish province of Çanakkale between the Ottoman Empire and the Allied Powers, Demirtaş stated: “Let’s all put our faults on the table boldly. Let’s be equal and honored, as our shared values in Çanakkale were. Let’s be a great country of democracy.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, one of the main contenders in the upcoming elections on June 24, consistently labels the HDP an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. The HDP and its former leader Demirtaş deny any links to the PKK.
More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict between the PKK and the Turkish state since the early 1980s. A two-and-a-half-year peace process, in which Demirtaş and a number of other HDP MPs took part as facilitators, collapsed in summer 2015, prompting an intense wave of violence.
Demirtaş has been behind bars since Nov. 4, 2016 on several charges of terrorism.
He was given permission to make a campaign speech on state-run broadcaster TRT on June 17 from his jail cell.
“The only reason why I am here is because the AKP is scared of me,” Demirtaş said in his 10-minute TV spot, referring to Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
“What we are passing through is only the trailer of a one-man regime. The scary part of the movie is yet to start,” he said.
“I have no doubt that you will be on the side of freedom … We will bring our country back from the edge of the cliff,” he added.