Italian Parliament’s Human Rights Committee debates Kurdish issue, isolation and HDP

Following an invitation from Laura Boldrini, Chair of the Standing Committee on Human Rights of the Italian Parliament, a meeting was held with the participation of the committee members. HDP’s Europe Representative Devriş Çimen, who was invited by Boldrini, attended the meeting online and made a presentation on the closure case against the HDP, the Kobanê Trial and how Turkey’s current political climate affects human rights.


Laura Boldrini made the opening speech and addressed the crackdown on the HDP, the Kobanê Trial and the closure case against the HDP. Boldrini emphasized that government-appointed trustees replaced HDP mayors in an attempt to cripple HDP’s local administrations. She stated that Turkey is favouring a pro-Western outlook, but what is being done currently is the opposite. She added that they keep a close eye on the developments in Turkey.


“Turkey has not been at peace with its internal dynamics, minorities and peoples since its establishment. Fear has always governed the country. Turkish schoolteachers explain the position of the country to students the following way: ‘We live in a territory surrounded on three sides by the sea and enemies.’ Contemporary politicians are under the influence of this discourse. Therefore, there is a political understanding that considers dissidents as an enemy,” Çimen said, insisting that the Kurdish issue is the root of all problems in Turkey.

“Since the Kurdish issue has been suppressed with violence and antidemocratic means, it is now intertwined with the issue of democracy. Because politicians manipulate them, the Turks are giving up their democratic rights so that the Kurds will not have the same rights. They simply give their consent to what is happening. Since its establishment, the HDP has been conducting politics by focusing on Turkey’s democratization and democratic backsliding.”

Çimen further said the following:

“The ruling AKP has received international support. Now the party has established an authoritarian regime in Turkey where injustice, corruption, poverty, oppression and violence are rampant in every field.

Italian Prime Minister Draghi once called Tayyip Erdogan a ‘dictator’. “But we must also be ready to cooperate for the benefit of our country,” he added. This view is held not only by the Italian Prime Minister, but also by the EU. The relations with European organizations should, of course, be encouraged. Yet the relations should not be maintained in defiance of human rights and democracy. Therefore, the EU’s refugee agreement with Erdogan in 2016 has led to such consequences.


Between 2013 and 2015, a negotiation process took place between the Erdoğan government and PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. There were serious hopes and expectations for Turkey’s democratization. Discussions about freedoms, rights and democracy were generated freely in the country. In April 2015, these negotiation talks were halted. The peace process came to an end. General elections were held in June 2015. Afterwards, Turkey was embroiled in social unrest. Since then, war, violence, oppression and arrests have become a part of daily life. Kurdish populated cities such as Sur, Cizre and Nusaybin were destroyed under the pretext of fighting the PKK within the borders of Turkey. Northern Syrian cities such as Afrin, Serekaniye and Tel Abyad, which remain outside the borders of Turkey, were attacked and occupied. Turkey has established 40 military bases in northern Iraq and is waging a war.”


Çimen remarked that HDP members are punished for engaging in alternative politics and raised concern over the systematic pressures that the party has been subjected to. “In a report on the prisons released by the Council of Europe in April 2021, Turkey was found to be the country with the highest detention rate. The number of detainees and convicts is almost 300,000 in Turkey. The report revealed that there are 30,000 detainees and convicts on terror charges in the member countries of the Council of Europe and about 29,000 of them remain in Turkey’s prisons. Anti-terror laws are implemented so arbitrarily that anyone who thinks differently is at risk of being designated as a terrorist, because this is decided by the Erdogan regime, not by the independent judiciary. Since 2015, more than 12,000 HDP members have been arrested. Although some of them were released, more than 4000 HDP members are currently in prisons. HDP members are not punished because they are against Erdoğan, but because they are trying to develop an alternative policy.”


“Abdullah Öcalan has been under aggravated isolation for the past year. He is not permitted to meet with his family and lawyers. Despite the reports of the CPT and the calls of the Council of Europe, there has been no progress on the issue. This form of isolation has now been adopted in many prisons in Turkey. Prisons have turned into places of isolation and death. Deaths in prisons have surged recently. For instance, Aysel Tuğluk, who was arrested when she was HDP’s co-chair, is seriously ill. She is not permitted to receive treatment outside the prison where she is held. By keeping Aysel Tuğluk in prison, the Erdoğan regime symbolically tries to take revenge and intimidate the country’s citizens. According to the data by the Human Rights Association (IHD), there are at least 1600 sick prisoners in Turkey’s prisons, and at least 600 of whom are seriously ill.

Turkey does not respect the decisions and recommendations of many international institutions, such as the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the European Court of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) and the United Nations. Therefore, international institutions should announce their own sanctions against it. The HDP, which is the third largest party in Turkey’s parliament and the second largest opposition party, wants to play a constructive role in these matters. However, the government has introduced a closure case against the party. Governments, particularly the Italian government, must raise their voices against this case.”

Çimen pointed out that the media, judiciary, education, economy, security and parliament in Turkey were at the service of the Erdogan government and the HDP is struggling to get rid of the current political crisis. Therefore, all parties should play an encouraging role in the democratization of Turkey and should promote dialogue and peaceful methods to resolve the Kurdish issue, according to Çimen.


“In this disturbing situation in Turkey, human rights are being violated. Various institutions should monitor the situation in prisons,” Boldrini said. She added that the public is manipulated by the government-controlled media in Turkey. The Italian politician stated that they stand in solidarity with the HDP and that they will contribute to the efforts for democratization of Turkey. Boldrini concluded that they appreciate HDP’s continued resistance and determination despite all these pressures it has been facing.

Source: ANF English and The Chamber of Deputies of Italy (Camera dei deputati)