82 more arrests: The onslaught on the HDP continues unabashedly!

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The ultranationalist and decisively anti-Kurdish AKP-MHP alliance continues with its onslaught on the HDP under the conditions of a global pandemic. Today we woke up to the news that the chief prosecutor in Ankara issued arrest warrants for 82 more people. So far many of those in the 82-people-list have been detained on the grounds of their “role” in the Kobane protests in Turkey on 6-8 October 2014. Former deputy and Kars co-mayor Mr Ayhan Bilgen, former deputies Ms Ayla Akat Ata, Mr Sırrı Süreyya Önder, Mr Nazmi Gur, Ms Emine Ayna, Ms Beyza Ustun, Mr Altan Tan, former party spokesperson Mr Günay Kubilay, and HDP Central Executive Board member Mr Alp Altınörs are among the detainees. These people were then members of HDP’s Central Executive Board. Former co-chairs Mr Selahattin Demirtaş and Ms Figen Yüksekdağ, too, have been under arrest for the case on the Kobane protests.

The office of the prosecutor refers to the Kobane protests as the reason for this new wave of arrests. These protests took place on 6-8 October 2014 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 sympathizers 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 reality. 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 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. (The chief prosecutor making these arrests has recently married, and, together with the bride, visited President Erdoğan in his Palace. President Erdoğan did welcome them with gifts.)

As our co-chair Mr Mithat Sancar stated today, this operation is a political one that is implemented “under the guise of a judicial decision.” It is clear that the government has been preparing for such a massive wave of arrests, but we think that the government pulled the trigger at yesterday’s National Security Council meeting and at the chief prosecutor’s wedding visit to the Palace.

President Erdoğan and the Turkish government were clearly not happy with the defeat of the ISIS by Kurdish fighters in Kobane in 2014. Since then, the government has been very aggressive towards the HDP and we think these new arrests are just a part of Erdoğan’s politics of revenge for the defeat of ISIS in Kobane. Otherwise, how can one explain the fact that the government is chasing those who did show solidarity with the Kobane resistance even six year after the fact? Another interesting point is that some of the people arrested today had already been arrested, prosecuted and acquitted in the past for the exact same charges, such as the co-mayor of Mr Ayhan Bilgen.

Since 2015, about 16,000 HDP members and administrators have been detained and over 5000 of them were later arrested and sent to prisons. Our former co-chairs, members of parliament, dozens of elected mayors, and countless members and administrators still remain behind bars. The government is putting so much pressure on the HDP because it sees and fears the fact that in the fist elections the HDP will play a crucial political role for the democratic future of Turkey (which simultaneously means the demise of the AKP-MHP alliance).

Of course, we do not kneel down before such unlawful attacks. We invite everybody to join our ongoing struggle for freedom, justice, and dignity. The victory of HDP and the broader democratic opposition against President Erdoğan and his allies in Turkey will have dramatic consequences for the peoples of the Middle East and Europe.

Feleknas Uca & Hişyar Özsoy Foreign Affairs Spokespersons