Fine Gael Louth Senator Jim D’Arcy, who is a member of the Council of Europe ad hoc committee observing the Turkish Presidential Election, is concerned that the Kurds in the South are under threat from the Islamist State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS).
‘As a member of the Committee observing the Turkish Presidential Election, I was based in the south in Diyarbakir which is a Kurdish Province close to the border with Syria and Iraq, and there is no doubt that ISIS pose a real threat to peace and security in the region.
“During the election the team of three international observers went to polling stations close to the border and I have no doubt that the situation is very serious. More than 500 Kurds, men, women and children have been killed in the past number of weeks since ISIS started its march through North Eastern Syria and Northern Iraq in which Kurdish communities live.
“The Kurds feel that they are the forgotten people and that nobody cares about their situation. They are hoping that Mr Erdogan will stand up and be counted on the issue but they are not confident.
“Prime Minister Recep Erdogan of the AKP was elected President of Turkey yesterday (Sunday 10th August), on the first count with 52% of the vote, defeating his two opponents. Ekmelliden Ihsanoglu who was jointly nominated by centre parties CHP and MHP received 38% of the vote and Selahattin Demirtas of HDP, the Kurdish candidate received 9%.
“I must say that as we observed the process, including the polling station in Diyarbakir Prison, in which many political prisoners are housed, the elections appeared fair and free. However, many in Turkey expressed the view that the AKP Party had a huge influence on the media and particularly on the main television channels.
“Due to the current tense situation in the Middle East it appears Turkey wants a strong man at the helm, although even some of those who voted for him are concerned that he is becoming too autocratic.
“Observing the elections from such close proximity opened my eyes to the very real concerns of the Kurdish community and again highlights the tensions that exist in the Middle East.”