HDP politician Yüksel Oğuz drew attention to constant police surveillance in the run-up to 25 November in Turkey: “They are trying to create fear and frustration. They are afraid of the organized power of women.”
Everywhere in North Kurdistan, preparations are in full swing for 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. On 17 November, the Free Women’s Movement (TJA) in Kızıltepe district of Mardin launched an eight-day campaign of meetings and events, that will culminate in a large demonstration in the province of Mardin on 25 November.
The co-chair of the HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) in the district of Dargeçit, Yüksel Oğuz, who is involved in the TJA campaign, spoke of a special war policy that is particularly directed against women in Kurdistan and is also reflected in increasing patriarchal violence. After the destruction of Kurdish cities during the military siege in 2015, the Turkish state did everything in its power to minimize the participation of women in the fight.
Yüksel Oğuz emphasized that, on 25 November, they will organize a grave visit to Pakistan Öner, who was murdered by her husband, and Garibe Gezer, who was murdered by torture in prison.
Oğuz said: “A police vehicle is parked in front of our district office. They follow us from our daily work to public gatherings, they drive us to visits to people’s homes or funeral ceremonies. There are policies of oppression and intimidation applied to society at large, but complex policies are being pursued against women. This has developed increasingly after the struggles for self-government. The state is afraid of the organized power of society and women. This policy is primarily directed against young women. In response, we have decided to reach out to as many young women as possible during the 25 November events and involve them in the organized struggle.”
Drug use is encouraged by the state
An important issue that the women’s movement has to deal with is drug use, said Oğuz, adding: “In Dargeçit we are observing that attempts are being made to increase drug use. This is part of the special war and is particularly aimed at neighborhoods where there was strong resistance during the struggle for self-government. We are dealing with the issue. One of the areas where there are many young men and women is the textile workshops. We learned that organizations like TÜGVA (Youth Foundation of the Turkish State) go there under the guise of fighting drugs and trying to talk to young people and win them over. One of our activities as part of our program for 25 November will be a visit to these workshops.”
Preparations for local elections
Yüksel Oğuz also said that the politics of the trustee in Dargeçit, who was appointed in place of the HDP mayor in 2016. He not only closed the women’s facilities, but also confiscated all of their property. The AKP won the 2019 local elections, but the Green Left Party received 5,000 more votes than the AKP in the May elections. Oğuz is therefore counting on the local elections, which are expected to take place in March 2024. In particular, preparations for the elections will be strengthened after the activities on 25 November so that women will once again take a strong place in the city administration after the elections.