A new stage in Erdogan’s election labyrinth: At least 110 journalists, politicians, artists, lawyers detained

Ahead of the May 14 elections, Turkish police stormed countless houses and workplaces in the provinces of Amed, Mardin, Siirt, Bingöl, Van, Şırnak, Batman, Antep, Urfa, Bursa, İstanbul, İzmir, Mersin, Muş, Bitlis, Hakkari, Osmaniye, Sivas, Malatya, Adıyaman and Ankara this morning.

The raids carried out as part of a Diyarbakır based investigation mostly targeted Kurdish civil society organizations, including the Mezopotamya Agency (MA), the Yeni Yaşam Newspaper, the Lawyers for Freedom Association (ÖHD) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

The charges are still unclear because of the confidentiality order on the investigation, the Diyarbakır Bar Association said.

According to Mehdi Özdemir, deputy head of the bar, over 150 people were detained in the raids. Among those 25 lawyers. He also noted that the operation was still ongoing, and there were no reasons presented for the detentions so far. The operation targeted various occupational groups, including artists, politicians, NGO representatives, and lawyers.

Later, the state-run Anadolu Agency (AA) reported that 110 people were in custody.

HDP executives among the detained

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) executives were also among the detained, according to Tayip Temel, an MP for the party, said on Twitter.

“As we approach the election, the government once again turned to detention operations out of fear of losing power,” he wrote. “This morning, dozens of our friends, including HDP Central Executive Committee members, co-chairs, journalists, artists, and lawyers, were detained in Diyarbakır.”

10 journalists are arrested

Among those taken into custody are Ferhat Çelik, owner of the Mezopotamya News Agency (MA), Abdurrahman Gök, an editor at the agency, Osman Akın, managing editor of the daily Yeni Yaşam newspaper, and Kadri Esen, the publisher of Xwebûn newspaper, the only Kurdish-langage print newspaper in Turkey. Police officers seized books and computers belonging to the journalists during the searches of their homes. 

The detainees include 10 journalists; Mezopotamya Agency (MA) editor Abdurrahman Gök, MA reporters Ahmet Kanbal and Mehmet Şah Oruç, Yeni Yaşam newspaper editor in chief Osman Akın, weekly Kurdish newspaper grant holder Kadri Esen, JINNEWS reporter Beritan Canözer, journalists Mehmet Yalçın, Mıkail Barut, Salih Keleş, Remzi Akkaya.

The ÖHD said on Twitter that searches had also been carried out at its offices. “We will not remain silent against the political operation carried out against our association and members during the election process! We have learned that journalists, artists, politicians, and citizens from Diyarbakır, Batman, and Urfa provinces have also been detained as part of the same investigation. We will not be silenced against the political operations carried out against our association and other democratic institutions. The defense will not be silenced!”

HDP: Judiciary and police have intervened in the election campaign

The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Executive Board issued a statement on the mass detentions in Turkey this morning, saying: “The AKP/MHP government is facing the biggest electoral defeat in its history and continues to attack our party, civil society organisations, social dynamics and the opposition out of panic and fear. In the attack carried out via the judiciary in the morning hours in 21 provinces centred in Diyarbakır [ku. Amed], more than 100 people were detained, including our deputy co-chair Özlem Gündüz, our Central Executive Board (MYK) member Mahfuz Güleryüz, other party members, journalists, lawyers and artists.”

Regarding the background of the operation, the HDP executive board said: “We and society know the reason for this attack, which was carried out by the AKP government, and the judiciary led by it. The government has been trying to prolong its life with political coups, massacres, black propaganda, special war methods, threats, blackmail and all kinds of attacks since 2015. With this morning’s wave of detentions, it has launched a new coup attempt ahead of the May 14 elections. The operation is directed against the will of the electorate and an open intimidation and threat to society and its political preferences.”

The statement goes on to say that the judiciary and the police, who have not taken action against the gangs , -meaning Erdogans paramilitary groups-, who openly threaten beheadings in the streets and pressure our voters with their children, have intervened in the election campaign for the ruling AKP and MHP.

And calls for solidarity: “We call on all those who want to put an end to this order of threats and blackmail, who show the will to come to terms with the illegitimacy that has been practised for years, to take an open stand against these attacks.

*Photo: 14 February 2019, the HDP’s spokesperson Ebru Günay, surrounded by Turkish police 

Source: Bianet + ANF + HDP

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