According to DBP’s leadership board, Sebahat Tuncel was again elected a co-chair at the party’s fourth congress., and Mohammed Arsalan, the deputy head of the party was also elected co-chair of the party.
Arsalan takes the place of Kamuran Yuksek, who has been residing in Europe due to political pressures and hasn’t returned to Turkey.
Tuncel has been jailed for six months now by Ankara as part of a security crackdown against those allegedly having links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) following the resumption of armed clashes in the wake of the shattering of a fragile peace process in 2015.
According to the congress, the party’s by-laws will be amended, increasing the number on the leadership board to 60 and taking new policies in an effort to increase the party’s activities.
Aside from arresting the DBP co-chairs and of 106 municipalities being run by DBP members, 86 of them were replaced by trustees by the state as part of a large masterplan Ankara has dubbed as “Counterterrorism and Rehabilitation Action Plan.”
The Trustees law was passed in the Turkish parliament in August 2016 to arrest or expel mayors from their jobs and replace them with new people by the state itself.
DBP’s predecessor the Peace and Democracy Party was founded in 2008. Following the closure of its offices in 2014, the party’s name was changed to the Democratic Regions Party.
They have party offices or branches across 27 cities in Turkey and the Kurdish southeastern region. The majority of their members are in Istanbul, Adana, Izmir, Diyarbakir, Van, Gaziantep, Merdin, Agri and Elie.
The DBP has close ties with People’s Democratic Party (HDP), the largest pro-Kurdish party in Turkey whose co-chairs are also arrested on charges of having links to the PKK, designated as a terrorist organization by the state.
The DBP entered into a parliamentary caucus with the HDP in 2014 and has no MPs. DBP now operates on the local political levels.
During the local elections, candidates ran for office under the HDP banner in Turkey’s western provinces and under the BDP banner in the southeast.
In Turkey’s municipal elections in 2014, the party won 106 municipalities in southeastern Turkey.
The PKK has been engaged in a three-decade-long guerilla war against the Turkish state calling for greater national and cultural rights for millions of Kurds in Turkey. Fighting between the two sides resumed in mid-2015 after peace negotiations collapsed. Both the DBP and the HDP refute ties to the PKK.