Call For a New Life

Demirtaş: Call for a new life

My candidacy is not just for a new president, but for a new way of life for Turkey. It is a proposal for rebuilding our fraternity on an equal footing.

Our call is to all the peoples and all the beliefs in Turkey, to build a new life in which all are free to express their differences, free from pressure to conform.

The call for a new life is Radical Democracy!

I did not become a candidate in order to preside over an authoritarian, bureaucratic, anti-democratic, sexist state. The president we hope for is one who will be with the people on the streets.

This means ruling together and making everyone a partner in government. This determination not to be ruled, but for all to take part, will mean gains, not for individuals, but for the people.
A new life will grow through the participation of the excluded and those voices against ethnic, religious, sexual and class discrimination which have not been heard up to now.

The new way of life means, in place of the imposition of uniformity, an equal and voluntary union of our differences. We believe that a free and democratic Turkey is possible.

Turkey is at a crossroads. Either we will choose to further consolidate the authoritarian state or we will pave the way for a fundamental change by taking radical democratic measures to realise the desires of all the oppressed.

By gathering the strength of all who object, we have the opportunity to root out the system in which the bureaucratic mechanisms of Ankara make all the decisions. Therefore, while we are presented with three candidates, there are in reality only two political choices.

Our policy: The people administers itself, freely expressing its differences with pride. The people can speak freely and determine their own future.

Faced with this neo-liberal and anti-democratic order, we refuse to make the false choice between nationalism and religious sectarianism.

We believe that the best government is the least government. We aim to make the state smaller and create a system where democracy and citizens’ rights prevail.  We propose to transform the state, whose current aim is to protect itself and its power, into an efficient vehicle to serve the people.

No longer will the state revolve around one person and the hierarchy around him. Peoples’ assemblies will ensure the direct participation of the people in running the state.

We will establish assemblies of women, youth, the disabled, belief groups, cultural and ethnic groups, farmers, workers and labourers. Instead of increasing the powers of the presidency, we will undertake a presidency which will guarantee the increased power of the people.

All the channels of the system will be opened up to the people and be democratised.
Turkey will no longer be run by institutions that defend the status quo or the products of military coups, such as the National Security Council. Strengthened local government and democratic committees will replace these institutions.

The state will no longer audit itself. In place of the State Audit Commission, we will have the Peoples Audit Commission. This is a fundamental pre-condition of an open and transparent state.

The call for a new life is Belief in Peace!

The will for peace of the peoples of Turkey is the guarantor of the peace process. The determination shown in the presidential election by those who want peace will lay the foundations for a quicker resolution of the peace process.

The solution of the Kurdish problem is an inseparable part of the democratisation of Turkey. As we bring the problem toward solution, Turkey will become more democratic. The more democratic Turkey becomes, the faster we will move toward a solution.
The will to achieve comes first from those of us who have fought for peace for years and from the forces of democracy in Turkey.

Our candidacy for the presidency has strategic importance for the achievement of a lasting peace. We are aiming for a transformation that will democratise Turkey from top to bottom and root radical democracy in society. This is the objective of our call for change.
Our diversity is our strength, not our weakness.

Our democratic nation is made up of Turks, Kurds, Alevis, Armenians, Greeks, Ezidis, Suryanis, Keldanis, Arabs, Circassians, Laz, Pomaks, and Romanies.  We will move away from every form of imposed uniformity to a pluralist democratic model for the nation.
We will move from the era of the state constitution to the era of the peoples’ constitution.

The call for a new life is Justice!

The architects of our existing constitution were recently given life prison sentences. We have been under the oppression of the Junta’s illegitimate constitution for thirty-five years now. To defend the provisions of this constitution is to defend the military coup.

We can no longer postpone the need to completely replace this constitution that sanctifies the state and tramples underfoot peoples, languages, beliefs, and cultures. This has become an urgent need.

We need a non-sexist, ecological, democratic constitution that reflects Turkey’s multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, religiously diverse and multi-identity reality.
The new constitution must be the foundation document of a Democratic Turkey and should be written by the people.

The call for a new life is Freedom for All Faiths!

Life together can only be based on equality and freedom.
The pressure on all the oppressed and excluded faiths—Alevis, Christians, Jews, Ezidis—must be lifted. The way must be opened for all faiths and worldviews to coexist freely in a pluralist democracy.

The right to worship in ones mother tongue must be ensured. The Department of Religious Affairs, which exists to make religion serve the official ideology of the state, must be abolished. The state must abandon any attempt to influence or control religion through any institution. All hateful and discriminatory words directed at different beliefs must be removed from school textbooks and all incitement must be punished.

Legal status must be granted to the Alevi djemevis and the places of worship of all faiths and religions.
We must develop a libertarian secularism that frees all from the state monopoly over religion and enables those of any faith or of none to live freely as they chose.

The call for a new life is Green!

From the resistance of the villagers of Bergama to cyanide gold mining in the 1990s to today, attacks on nature are never out of the news.

In every corner of our country we see similar stories with different actors: women of the Black Sea coast beaten by the gendarmerie for resisting the construction of a hydro-electric scheme on their local river, farmers in Thrace protesting the pollution of their waters with industrial waste, and villagers threatened by the construction of nuclear or fossil fuel power stations where they live.

The earth which feeds us, the air that cleans our blood, water which is the source of life, and the other species with which we share the earth: those not prepared to defend this shared inheritance cannot possibly talk about democracy, justice, and humanity.

The right to life is not just a right for people; defending the right to life of all animals is one of our basic principles.

The call for a new life is Young!

Our youth are in revolt against the attempt to force them into a predetermined mould by those who imagine themselves the owners of this country. Our young people are besieged by systemic problems such as unemployment and the failures in education.
The new way of life we are proposing will give voice to our youth.

The “peoples’ assemblies” we will set up will include youth assemblies which will ensure the active participation of young men and women in every arena and remove every legal obstacle to youth self-organisation. Ensuring the effective exercise of the political economic social and cultural rights of young people will be a responsibility of the state.

In place of the mentality that understands youth only as a problem of “maintaining order” without any attempt to deal with the problems facing young people, the new life will give our youth a voice. Our youth will not be led, but will be leaders.

The call for a new life is the Right to Education!

Education is a public right afforded to every citizen free of charge. Access to education should be opened up to all equally, regardless of language, religion, faith, ethnicity, sex, sexual identity or race. Public expenditure on education must be increased and the education budget should be utilised in a just and equal way.

The educational curriculum should be freed from nationalism and sexism. We should offer a scientific, democratic, high quality, secular education, without rote learning, that develops the creativity of individuals and that orients students in accordance with their abilities. Compulsory religious education lessons should be abolished and, instead, elective lessons in individuals’ own religions should be offered in accord with their own wishes.

Education in one’s mother tongue should be recognised as a right. At all levels of education, alongside the teaching of the official language, Turkish, there should be an opportunity to receive education in the student’s mother tongue. Education must be become multi-lingual on the basis of mother tongue education. It should be made possible, even if only one person requests it, for this right to be exercised without obstruction.

Education should no longer be exam-centric. The Higher Education Council should be abolished and the academic and administrative autonomy of the universities should be strengthened.

The call for a new life is for Women!

Every day at least five women are murdered. In this patriarchal society that allows women neither a voice nor a share in power, the oppression and slaughter continue unabated.
We have taken a principled stand against all forms of discrimination against and violence to women. In this, we will continue.
Only if women take a leading role can we achieve our new way of life. Every society is only as free as the women in that society.

The call for a new life means a sexually free society. The system ignores the fate of those LGBTI individuals who face oppression and murder because of their sexual orientation or sexual identity. The very existence of LGBTI individuals is seen as a crime. Homophobia and transphobia are encouraged. In the new life, every citizen, whatever their sexual identity, will have equal rights and be able to live freely life without facing discrimination.

The call for a new life is for World Peace!

Turkey is obliged to make a structural change in its foreign policy. Before, we had a foreign policy that ignored the problems resulting from the period of military domination of Turkish politics. Now we are face to face with the grave consequences of a foreign policy, with Ottoman references, that has the ambition to become a regional power.

Turkish foreign policy perpetuates itself by fanning the flames of sectarian hatred and opening the way for organisations like ISIS. In the West, the EU membership process has virtually come to a halt, as have the related plans for reform in Turkey.

Our radical democratic belief in the possibility that people with different beliefs and identities can live together freely and equally, without assimilation, must also be the basis of our foreign policy.

The call for a new life is Get Organised!

The neo-liberal period has brought fundamental changes in property relations, production and employment. The production process has been atomised, split into small units and reorganised.

Under the heading of “flexible working”, workers face insecure, subcontracted, uninsured employment conditions that not only divest workers of their basic employment rights, but also rights in all aspects of their lives.  

We aim for a presidency that will make direct interventions for the investigation of industrial murders, the prevention of the use of child labour, and the reorganisation of the conditions of seasonal agricultural workers. The new life must guarantee the social rights of all workers, especially those in precarious employment.

4 responses to “Call For a New Life

  1. Pingback: Success for the pro-Kurdish HDP in Turkey’s general election could reshape the country’s politics | Kurdish issue

  2. Pingback: Turkey’s left party leader Selahattin Demirtaş’ call for ‘new way of life': radical democracy | Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal | digger666

  3. Dear Demirtas,
    You are a shining star in the Turkish democracy with your approachable and inspiring personality; however, I am a bit disappointed with your ambiguous statements in last couple of days. Why would you refrain yourself from saying that PKK must stop attacking police officers and soldiers? Why do you try to justify PKK’s killings?
    When I was growing up in Turkey, I always watched the news with horror due to the PKK attacks in the southern-east of Turkey. All those murdered babies by PKK cannot be forgotten. I still remember those news vividly. I don’t really understand why HDP supports and protects PKK after all these. We also know that the people who live in that area have suffered so much from the Turkish military. They had to leave their villages and endure tortures. Wouldn’t it be nice if you stay distant to both PKK and Turkish military since you claim that you are here to defend Kurdish people’s rights?
    I wish you come out and explain all your reasoning why you support PKK even though PKK has been one of the biggest enemies of Kurdish people. We need to get clarification about this.

    Thank you,
    Amy Yitzhak

    • Dear Amy,
      I am wondering what part of Turkey you lived in? If you really want to know about PKK and what it has achieved for the Kurds who have been subjects of brutal ethnic cleansing since the first world war you need to be a Kurd or go and live in Turkey as a Kurd with a Kurdish ID. Only then you will understand our struggle.

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