Turkey: Crackdown on HDP escalates with 82 new arrests

Issue 
Solidarity action in Sydney September 26. Photo: Rojava Solidarity - Sydney/Facebook

Arrest warrants were issued for 82 people in Turkey on September 25. The arrests targeted members and leaders of the People's Democratic Party (HDP) ‒ the third largest party in Turkey.

According to a statement released by the HDP, "many of those [targeted for arrest] have been detained on the grounds of their 'role' in the Kobane protests in Turkey on 6‒8 October 2014".

Those detained include parliamentarians and former parliamentarians, mayors and party spokespeople.

According to the HDP, "the office of the prosecutor refers to the Kobane protests as the reason for this new wave of arrests".

"These protests took place ... against the siege of the town of Kobane in northern Syria by the ISIS and the inaction of Turkish government in the face of an imminent ISIS massacre. During the protests at least 43 people were killed. The overwhelming majority of these people were members or sympathisers of the HDP and murdered with Turkish police’s firearms.

"President Erdoğan has been accusing our arrested co-chairs and the HDP of inciting violence. This charge is a blatant lie and has absolutely nothing to do with what really happened.

"In fact, HDP deputies have so far tabled more than ten parliamentary proposals to establish an all-party parliamentary commission to investigate the protests, reveal the truth, and help to clarify the provocateurs and instigators of violence. But all of our proposals were refused by the [ruling] AKP-MHP alliance.

"To the best of our knowledge, so far no single police officer has been prosecuted for these murders. Adding insult to injury, the government is putting all the blame and responsibility of these murders on the HDP by means of a judiciary that is under its total control."

HDP co-chair Mithat Sancar said the operation is political and was implemented "under the guise of a judicial decision".

The arrests are just the latest manifestation of a long-running campaign of intimidation and suppression against the HDP. Since 2015, about 16,000 HDP representatives have been detained at one point or another. More than 5000 ‒ including parliamentarians and mayors ‒ have been imprisoned.

This latest crackdown has been condemned internationally.

Socialist Alliance in Australia published a solidarity message saying it "stands in solidarity with the People's Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey in condemning the anti-democratic attacks waged by the Erdoğan regime against the popular left wing party".

"We call on the Australian government to condemn the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms for this latest outrage."

NSW Greens parliamentarians David Shoebridge and Jamie Parker spoke out in solidarity. Shoebridge asked of the Turkish government "if you believe in human rights, if you believe in liberal democracy, how dare you jail a people's political representatives".

Green Left editor Susan Price also made a statement calling on the Australian government to immediately summons the Turkish ambassador to demand that the HDP representatives be released immediately.

The Socialist Party of Malaysia also condemned the arrests: "The mass arrests against members of the third-largest party in the Turkish Parliament is an assault on democracy by the increasingly authoritarian Erdogan regime.

"The continuous attack by the Erdogan regime against HDP is an attempt to deny the Turkish people an alternative for a democratic future that will bring meaningful change to the Middle East and Europe."

The Philippines Party of the Labouring Masses also condemned the arrests.

"The Erdogan regime assisted ISIS in its genocidal rampage across Syria and Iraq and is carrying out ethnic cleansing against Kurds in Rojava, in North Syria and the regime is now seeking revenge against the HDP for the defeat of the ISIS forces by the Kurdish fighters in Kobane.

"This is a campaign of assault against the HDP for its struggle in support of the self-determination of the Kurdish people and democratic rights in Turkey.

"Release the detained HDP members and all political prisoners in Turkey!"

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