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Turkish Police Raid Opposition Headquarters, Arrest Pro-Kurdish Party Leaders

Friday, November 4, 2016 0:11
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Back in May, just two months before the Turkish “coup”, we reported that the puppet parliament of Turkish president Erodgan agreed to strip its members of immunity, a move which we predicted would “be used by Erdogan to prosecute members of the pro-Kurdish HDP, parliament’s third-biggest party, as well as anyone else he choose to take down.

Six months, and one fake coup which concentrated virtually all domestic political power in Erdogan’s hands later, we were proven right, when overnight two co-leaders of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish, People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and at least 11 more MPs were detained overnight as police raided homes in Ankara and eastern Kurdish-majority areas. Local media reported that other than in Ankara and Diyarbakir, the arrests have been made in the eastern and southeastern Turkish cities of Hakkari, Mardin and Batman. The arrests are linked to “terrorist propaganda” cases, Reuters said.

The raids took place on Thursday night in several Turkish cities

Turkish police raided the Ankara house of co-leader Selahattin Demirtas and the house of co-leader Figen Yuksekdag in Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast, the party’s lawyers told Reuters. “HDP call international community to react against Erdogan Regime’s coup,” the party said on Twitter, referring to President Tayyip Erdogan.

Selahattin Demirtas was detained at his home in Diyarbakir

Police also raided and searched the party’s head office in central Ankara. Television images showed party officials quarreling with police during the raid, and a Reuters witness said many police cars and armed vehicles had closed the entrances to the street of the HDP headquarters.

Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag were detained at their respective homes as part of a “counter-terrorism inquiry”, security sources quoted by Anadolu news agency said. At least nine other HDP MPs were also taken into custody.

The lawmakers were detained after “failing to appear for a summons to testify as part of a counter-terrorism investigation,” Anadolu state news agency reported.

The testimonies are connected to “terrorist propaganda” probes related to the Kurdish militant group PKK, and to the pro-Kurdish protests with violent clashes of October 2014, which HDP co-chair Demirtas is accused of inciting. The MPs were required to show up for testimonies after their parliamentary immunity was lifted thanks to the abovementioned law passed earlier this year. The two HDP leaders reportedly vowed not to testify.

Police broke into the home of HPD co-leader Figen Yüksekda? in Diyarbakir and detained her early Friday, while Selahattin Demirtas was detained in his Ankara house

The party’s lawyers told Reuters that 11 other HDP parliamentarians were also arrested in the raids, with two more wanted for arrest. Local media reported that other than in Ankara and Diyarbakir, the arrests have been made in the eastern and southeastern Turkish cities of Hakkari, Mardin and Batman.

Those detained included HDP’s deputy speaker in the Turkish parliament, RIA Novosti reported. “Deputy speaker of parliament Pervin Buldan has also been detained in Ankara,” the HDP representative was quoted as saying.

The HDP, which is in strong opposition to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government and supports the Kurdish- and other minorities, has been accused of having links to PKK, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization.

Meanwhile social networks could not be accessed from inside Turkey. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Whatsapp were inaccessible, even when users tried to circumvent restrictions using a virtual private network (VPN).

Mr Demirtas had tweeted about his arrest before the sites were restricted. Another MP from the party who is currently abroad, Ertugrul Kurkcu, told the BBC that the detentions were “totally unlawful”. He said: “This crackdown tonight is nothing to do with procedural law, criminal law, any law whatsoever or the constitution. This is an unlawful hijacking of HDP parliamentarians.

“The Turkish government is heading towards a dictatorship of Nazi style [sic].

“Will the Turkish government abide by the internationally accepted standards of parliamentary democracy? This is the basic question.”

Turkey claims that the HDP has links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a militant group, but the party strongly denies this. The PKK is deemed a terrorist organisation by the US, the European Union and Turkey.

Turkey remains under a state of emergency that was imposed after a failed coup in July. The emergency allows President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his cabinet to bypass parliament when drafting new laws and to restrict or suspend rights and freedoms. About 100,000 public sector employees with alleged links to the coup’s alleged mastermind were subsequently purged from their jobs.

The HDP entered the Turkish parliament for the first time last year, when it won 59 seats and became the country’s third-largest party. It had done so after at least two people died in explosions at one of its rallies. But just three months later, against a backdrop of rising violence between Turkish forces and the PKK, a crowd attacked the HDP’s offices in Ankara.

The next day, Mr Demirtas accused the ruling party of orchestrating nationalist attacks. Turkish politicians normally have immunity from prosecution, but this was removed from the HDP earlier this year.

The take home message: after cracking down on the rank and file, the police, army, the state workers in the aftermath of July’s “failed coup”, Erdogan has now gone after the third largest political party in Turkey, and his on his way to becoming a full-fledged dictator, and all thoughout the humanitarian,democratic western powers sit back and pretend not to see Turkey’s collapse into a dictatorial power.


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