Hüda Kaya: We'll splinter threshold against civilian dictatorship
ANKARA (DİHA) - The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) candidate list for the June 7 parliamentary elections mirrors its resolve to embrace different segments of society in order to reach its ambitious goal of exceeding the 10 percent election threshold by deciding to enter the elections as a party.
Out of the 550 seats in the parliament, nominees for 268 of them were allocated to women by the HDP. One of the party’s priorities was gender equality. In addition to both veteran and young figures of the Kurdish political movement, in constituencies where the HDP is likely to win, candidates vary from socialists to pious Muslims, individuals from ethnic and religious minorities, activists from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) groups, and an outspoken conscientious objector.
HDP list: A portrait of 'other Turkey'
The HDP list, which include members of ethnic and religious minorities in high numbers, present a portrait of the "other Turkey" not seen in those of the two mainstream parties. The party hopes to present its most serious challenge yet against the ruling AKP in Turkey's June election. For the first time in its history, HDP candidates will be entering the election not as independent candidates but as members of a party. The stakes are high; Turkey has Europe's highest electoral threshold for a party to enter Parliament, at 10%.
Life of Hüda Kaya
One of the party's leading woman candidates is Hüda Kaya, the Islamic writer running in the city's first district to "be the voice of others." Kaya, the child of a working-class Istanbul family, became well known in Turkey for her role in the struggle for the right for women to wear headscarves in public buildings in the 1990s. HDP nominates Kaya for Istanbul's 1st region 2nd line. Hüda Kaya had a political line from a ultra-nationalist thought to Islamic one, from actions of turban to Kandil Mountains. She was born in Istanbul in a farmer family. She was a hard ultranationalist before 1980 and she began to read Koran at 18. She began to put on turban and sheet at that time and she married with an Iraqi Turkish man. She divorced from him after 9 years and she had 3 daughters and 2 sons from now on.
Hüda Kaya opened a small shop and started to interest in social, cultural and human rights. She began to write corners about ban on turbans at these times. She was detained and jailed for 20 months for crime of thought. Her 13-year-old son Muhammed Cihad was also prisoned and brought to the same prison. After prison life, she went on her actions for rights. At one of these actions, her 16, 17 and 18-year-old daughters were detained at their schools in 1999. They were sentenced to different penalties of imprisonments.
Kaya decided to abandon the country and went to Pakistan. She returned to Istanbul later. She was sentenced to penalties of prison and remain in Ağri and Malatya prisons. One of her daughters, Nurulhak, lost her life in an accident after her release from Bandırma prison. Kaya understood that her struggle for turban should have be for a larger struggle for freedom and right. She became of the first members of MAZLUMDER, an association working on human rights.
Kaya had a long political journey. Before the 1980 coup in Turkey, she was part of the youth wing of the extremist nationalist movement. When she read the Qur'an, she came to critique the nationalist variety of Islam aggressively preached by the Turkish state—including the reigning AKP government. When she divorced her husband and he began to harass and threaten her family, she fled the threats and moved for the first time to Malatya, in the Kurdish region, where she found that Kurds did not "live in caves" as state propaganda represented.
Her arrival in Malatya coincided with the wave of repression against the elected government known as the "postmodern coup" of February 28, 1997. Kaya was arrested for a piece she wrote critiquing Islamic men in the movement. Around 500 others were arrested at the same time, including Kaya's high-school-age daughters, who were arrested for reading a prayer. In the Malatya jail, Kaya met Kurdish activists; the state's repression in the Kurdish region was intense at the time, when the war in the region was ongoing.
Kaya goes to Kandil in 2013
Her peace activist son Muhammed Cihad was jailed in 2011 with an operation called "PKK" and and then released. But, this truth changed Hüda Kaya's life. She went to Kandil Mountains along with her son in 2013. She heard about the stories of PKK guerrillas here and affected from them. She wrote these stories and set up some platforms. She went to refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Sudan, Pakistan, Iran, Chasmere, and Palestine. She was member of International Moslem Women Unity and Turkey's delegates. She was member of Central Executive Board (MYK) of the HDP. And now she is a deputy candidate of the HDP. Kaya tells her reason for the HDP, general elections and policies of AKP to DİHA.
"I said to [the state], 'You, with your cruelty, have brought all the oppressed together. They're not separatists and I'm not a reactionary. But you've brought all the oppressed together,'" she said. "I'm a Muslim, I'm a woman, I'm a Turk, but the people I am addressing are not just Turks and not just Muslims," she says "I'm addressing all the oppressed, because I have also experienced every kind of violence at the hands of this state." She mentions the "modern slavery" of the Roma people, who are forced to work under extremely poor working conditions in the worst jobs in Turkey. Kaya also meeta in the past with Kurdish guerrilla women, who she says that she finds "extremely impressive."
'HDP is edifying politics of Turkey'
Kaya says, "We are conducting struggle for parliament today. We'll demolish election threshold, we will liberate all the peoples, rights, oppressed, and water and land. At the beginning of peace process, HDP was a new party. But, now it is the main motor of the politics and it's the dynamism. It is shouldering the efforts of peace and solution. The HDP is edifying politics of Turkey. It is a model, it leads politics. The system of co-presidency is one of the most important models."
'Sole man may turn into dictatorship'
"We will shoulder all the responsibilities and show the initiative to exceed the election threshold," underlines Kaya and adds, "We cannot say that we have passed the threshold now. It's duty of all of us to work together and demolish such anti-democratic thresholds. Otherwise, the public opinion and society of Turkey will face sole-man dictatorship following the elections. Sole man may turn into dictatorship on April 8. We'll splinter the election threshold against civilian dictatorship."