On 12 June 2011, a group of independent observers travelled to Turkey to monitor the general elections. The observers returned with evidence of fraud and malpractice in the Southeast of the country. Even despite this, 36 representatives from the Labour, Freedom and Democracy platform, which included members of the BDP, were elected on the night, preventing an outright majority for Erdogan’s AKP government and representing a political watershed for Kurdish political representation in Turkey. Soon after the election, however, the country’s Supreme Election Board (YSK) barred Kurdish candidate Hatip Dicle from taking up his seat, an action which resulted in the remaining 35 BDP representatives boycotting the new Parliament until September 2011.
The 10 delegates included: Margaret Owen, barrister, member of Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC), sponsored by Britain Peace Council; Ali Has, lawyer and a spokesperson for Britain Peace Council; Hugo Charlton, criminal barrister, 1 Grays Inn; Zara Broughton, student film-maker; Jonathan Fryer, journalist, academic and Liberal International; Stephen Smellie, UNSION Scotland; Sherri Semsidini, human rights advisor at Trott and Gentry Solicitors; Omer Moore, human rights lawyer, Trott and Gentry Solicitors; Val Swain, activist, Fitwatch; Emily Apple, activist, Fitwatch, sponsored by UNITE, London North West Branch 9708; Mithat Ishakoglu PhD student Exeter University.
The full report on the reflections of the observers can be downloaded here: Turkish Election 2011: Victory at the polls – but what now for peace?
On their return, the delegates discussed their experiences at a public meeting in Portcullis House, giving attendees the opportunity to discuss the implications of the elections for the advancement of Kurdish civil and political rights. Read the meeting report.
Read a letter published in the Guardian on the lack of coverage given to Kurdish success in the election.
Read our press release: A CHANGE OF DIRECTION FOR TURKEY?