Kurdish party says recent arrests mark ‘end of democracy’ in Turkey

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HDP supporters in Izmir. Fie photo

ARA News

Erbil – The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) says the recent arrest of more than 12 Kurdish politicians marks the end of democracy in Turkey.

“The goal of these measures is to shut down the third largest party in parliament. This is a dark day not only for our party but for all of Turkey and the region as it means the end of democracy in Turkey,” Hisyar Ozsoy, Vice Co-chair of the HDP and its Chief of Foreign Affairs, said in a statement e-mailed to ARA News.

“Ever since our party reached a historic victory during the national elections of June 7, 2015 where we succeeded to enter parliament despite the undemocratic 10% threshold, President Erdogan has singled out our party as the main target of his authoritarian policies,” Ozsoy said.

“The reason is our principled opposition against his goal to introduce a presidential system in Turkey. Our seats in parliament are the biggest obstacles to the constitutional changes that Erdogan has been seeking,” he stated.

“Since he could not re-order elections another time, President Erdogan initiated the lifting of the immunity of our MPs in May 2016. As he could not prevent us from entering Parliament, he now orders us into prison,” the official said.

The HDP says that thousands of members, executives, elected mayors and city council members affiliated with the HDP and the HDP’s sister party DBP have already been sent to prison on ‘groundless charges’ since the HDP’s electoral victory in June 2015.

“Yet the coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and the subsequent declaration of a state of emergency has been the welcome opportunity for President Erdogan to eliminate the whole opposition. There is no freedom of expression and no freedom of press, no academic freedom, and no fair and independent judicial system any more,” the HDP said.

“With government decrees gaining the power of law, over 170 media outlets critical of Erdogan have been banned. More than 130 journalists are in prison, including world-renowned authors and intellectuals. Most recently, two Kurdish news agencies and several Kurdish dailies were closed down and the chief-editor, columnists and journalists of the daily Cumhuriyet have been detained. More than 80,000 people have been detained since July 15, and about half of them are in prison now,” the HDP said.

Moreover, 28 Kurdish municipalities are now run by bureaucrats appointed by the central government, and 30 democratically elected Kurdish mayors are now in prison, and about 70 others were dismissed by the central government.

“We strongly condemn the detainment of our Co-Chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yüksekdag, beside our Members of Parliament Nihat Akdogan, Nursel Aydogan,  Idris Baluken, Leyla Birlik, Ferhat Encü, Selma Irmak, Sirri Süreyya Önder, Ziya Pir, Imam Tascier, Gülser Yildirim, Abdullah Zeydan. We demand their immediate release. The manufactured charges against them and all other party members must be dropped,” the HDP official said.

Several Western officials have condemned the recent Turkish crackdown on the Kurds.

“Press Freedom and internet access essential to democratic and economic health. Urge Turkey to restore information access to its citizens now,” Tom Malinowski, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor said on Friday.

“When taking legal action against elected reps, democracies have higher duty to justify actions and preserve confidence in justice. As friend and ally, deeply troubled that government of Turkey has detained HDP leaders and other MPs while blocking internet access,” he said.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News 

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