Pro-Kurdish HDP calls on Turkey’s election board to cancel referendum

ANKARA – The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has called on Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK) to cancel the April 16 constitutional referendum due to the latter’s last-minute decision to accept unstamped ballots as valid.

HDP spokesperson and Şanlıurfa MP Osman Baydemir said the YSK refused to accept unstamped votes as valid in 2014 in the Güroymak district of the eastern province of Bitlis, thus paving way for the elections to be renewed.

“I’m making an open call from here. If you don’t adopt the same ‘invalidity’ decision that you made in 2014 for nearly 2.5 million votes [in the referendum], then you are not a referee, but a party,” Baydemir said at his party’s parliamentary group meeting in Ankara on April 18, adding that the local affiliate of the Democratic Regions Party (BDP) won in Güroymak in 2014 despite the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) objections.

“In the March 28 elections, the DBP was elected as the first party to win the elections. The elections were canceled by the YSK upon the AKP’s objections due to unstamped votes and envelopes. Another election was carried out on June 1. Despite that fact, the DBP won again,” he also said.

The YSK decision to accept unstamped ballot papers “unless it can be proved that they were brought from outside the voting room” sparked a major debate on the results of the referendum, in which the “yes” campaign emerged as the winner with 51.4 percent of the votes.

Describing the referendum results as “questionable,” Baydemir said the YSK’s acceptance of the unstamped ballot papers was a “blow to the elections.”

During his speech, Baydemir also said the struggle for “no” was beginning once again.

“There is no victory. There is a major voluntary resistance of those who defended the ‘no’ vote against fascism despite all the oppression. Despite the blackmail and oppression, 24 million citizens united in voting ‘no.’ In 17 metropolises, such as Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir, Eskişehir, Adana, Diyarbakır and Van, no agreement was reached regarding the proposed constitution. This constitution is not legitimate and doesn’t respond to society’s needs,” he added.

Baydemir also commented on the southeastern votes, saying that “Kurdish people protected their freedoms, democracy and language at the risk of death.”

“Amid conditions of a coup and a state of emergency and despite the fact that their cities were burnt and destroyed, hundreds of people were left homeless, trustees were appointed to their municipalities, Ağrı, Diyarbakır, Hakkari, Mardin, Muş, Siirt, Tunceli, Van, Batman, Şırnak and Iğdır voted ‘no’ to oppression and fascism by 62 percent ,” he also said.

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