Turkey arrests 67 Kurdish politicians on terrorism charges

Co-Chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş (C) and other Kurdish politicians in a previous protest against the Turkish government. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

Ankara – Turkish authorities on Monday arrested 67 members of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP).

The Turkish security forces stormed the HDP offices in Ankara, Istanbul and Adana.

“The campaign resulted in the arrest of 67 HDP members,” Kurdish activist Sherwan Simo told ARA News.

In the meantime, the Turkish authorities said in a statement that the arrestees will be interrogated in the next few days, adding they may face “terrorism charges”.

According to Simo, the HDP politicians were arrested “under the pretext that they’ve been supporting the PKK”.

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.

On November 3, Turkish police arrested Turkey’s most prominent Kurdish politician and co-Chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş. Demirtaş has repeatedly criticized President Erdogan’s crackdown against Kurdish communities and the erosion of political freedoms in Turkey.

Turkish prosecutors claim Demirtaş denigrated Erdoğan in a speech he gave condemning the arrest of two Kurdish co-mayors in Diyarbakir city in October. The principle oratory themes of that speech were the silencing of the media, abuse of power and the need to restart the moribund peace process.

Demirtaş’ arrest came just one day after the HDP’s other co-Chair, Figen Yüksekdağ, received a 10-month jail sentence for “making propaganda for a terrorist organization.” Yüksekdağ was convicted for giving a speech at the funeral of a member of the underground Marxist–Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) in 2012. Seven Kurdish politicians from the HDP, including Yüksekdağ, have been convicted for attending the funeral.

While the HDP has no official ties with the MLKP, owing to the latter’s violent Hoxhaist ideology, they are both resolutely hostile to the Islamic State (ISIS) and jihadism. The MLKP has sent volunteers to Northern Syria – Rojava and Sinjar to protect minority communities. “We will not surrender,” Yüksekdağ said in response to the verdict. “We will be the end and the curse for the dictatorship [in Turkey].”

While in the past it was impossible to charge lawmakers in Turkey, last May a decision was made to lift the immunity of some parliamentarians. Of Turkey’s 59 Kurdish MPs, 53 are currently being investigated by Turkey’s prosecutors. The overwhelming majority of the cases stem from the expression of objectionable ideas.

The arrests of Kurdish politicians are already leading to mass protests and a spike in tensions between Kurds and Ankara.

Also, on November 25, Ahmet Turk, the former mayor of Mardin and a respected peacemaker, was arrested by Turkish police on Thursday and transferred to Silivri Prison. “What difference does it make, if I am in prison or not? But how will this bloodshed end? How will this issue reach a resolution? These are the questions,” Ahmet Turk said before his arrest.

Analysts and politicians told ARA News that his arrest signals the end of the Kurdish-Turkish peace process.

Speaking for the HDP, Ozsoy condemned “the politics of intimidation and oppression” towards Kurdish politicians.

In mid-November, The European Union suspended membership talks with the Turkish government as a result of the increasing authoritarian measures under President Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

Reporting by: Jalal Maree and Ehmed Sawes | Source: ARA News

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