ANKARA, Turkey (A.W.)—The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) participated in the third congress of Turkey’s Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)—the second-largest opposition party represented in the Turkish Parliament—on Sunday.
Despite most of its leadership being jailed by Turkish authorities, over 32,000 HDP members and guests participated in the congress, entitled “We Will Win—No Matter What!”
Khajag Mgrdichian, a member of the ARF’s International Secretariat, represented the 128-year-old Armenian party.
Armenian member of Turkish Parliament Garo Paylan was elected on the executive that chaired the congress, which was attended by representatives of a number of invited political parties from France, Greece, Norway, Iraq, Germany, Ireland, and the Basque Country.
According to the ARF’s office of public relations, the ARF decided to participate in the congress to stand in solidarity with HDP, in its tireless work in regards to freedom and justice in Turkey. “The HDP leadership greatly appreciated the participation of all the political parties from abroad—including the ARF’s,” wrote a part of the statement released by the ARF.
The ARF’s office of public relations reported that the congress took place in an environment of jubilance, song, and dance. Armenian patriotic songs were also played throughout the congress.
“One of the most significant moments [of the congress] was when the messages of imprisoned [HDP] Co-Chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag were read,” said the statement.
Former Member of Parliament Sezai Temelli, 54, was voted by party delegates to replace Demirtas while Pervin Buldan, 50, was elected to replace Yuksekdag as Co-Chair.
This was the first time the ARF was represented at an HDP congress, though the party had previously met with representatives of its predecessor party—the Peace and Democracy Party of Turkey (BDP). On Oct. 29, 2013, a delegation of the BDP, headed by then Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtas, visited the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Washington office and met with a delegation headed by ARF Bureau member Hagop Der Khatchadourian.
The following month, a high-level meeting between delegations representing the ARF and BDP of Turkey was held in Istanbul on Nov. 12, 2013 . This was the first time since 1923 that an official ARF delegation visited Istanbul. Less than three weeks later, an ARF Youth delegation participated in the BDP’s first youth congress.