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Wednesday 1st
posted by Steve Sweeney in Britain

Labour firebrand among MPs condemning Erdogan's brutal clampdown on opposition parties

DEMOCRACY in Turkey is a farce with the government holding opposition leaders in jail for almost a year, Labour's Chris Williamson said yesterday.

The shadow fire minister was speaking at the parliamentary launch of a campaign to free jailed Turkish opposition politicians and said it was time to "break the silence" over the clampdown on democracy in Turkey.

"The (Peoples’ Democratic Party) HDP's struggle is the struggle for the rights of minorities, women and democracy in Turkey. We must all take note now," he said.

He vowed to support the Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign's initiative to "twin" British MPs with HDP politicians in Turkey, saying he would urge other Labour MPs to do the same.

Mr Williamson said: "It's time to break the silence on the persecution of the HDP. Throwing its leaders in jail makes a farce out of Turkey's democracy."

The meeting was held on International World Kobane Day and campaigners drew parallels with those who fought to liberate the Syrian city from the Isis death cult to those fighting for freedom and democracy in Turkey.

HDP MP for Agri Berdan Ozturk said: "Kurdish people are being massacred for demanding their human rights" and claimed that war crimes were being committed in Turkey.

Mr Ozturk has seven charges against him after speaking at meetings about the political situation in Turkey and was detained following his last visit to Britain.

The Turkish MP said the HDP co-leaders had been imprisoned for a year, along with 85 mayors and nearly 10,000 activists.

He warned that the EU has "betrayed democracy, human rights and freedom of expression" which it claims as its founding principles and slammed the bloc for ignoring the plight of jailed Turkish politicians.

"We will not give up and we will fight for our rights until the end."

Sinn Fein MP for Newry and Armagh Mickey Brady compared the situation of the HDP in Turkey to that of the Irish party which was banned in the north of Ireland in 1956 with Republican clubs outlawed in 1967.

And he accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of waging "systematic state terror" against the Kurds.

But Mr Brady said that it was possible for a peace process to come about.

"Political leadership is about taking risks. Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness showed us that," he said.

The Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign is calling for people to join a delegation to the trials of HDP co-leaders Figen Yuksekdag and  Selhattin Demirtas in December.