BRITAIN’S progressive forces were urged yesterday to “break the silence” and back a major campaign to free democratically elected opposition MPs from Turkish prisons.
The Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign (KSC) is launching a national campaign this Wednesday to free Turkish opposition MPs who have been jailed for almost a year as part of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian clampdown.
KSC co-secretary Rosa Gilbert accused the British government of complicity with repression with its “shocking silence” over the jailings and its continued sale of arms to Mr Erdogan’s government.
People’s Democratic Party (HDP) MP Berdan Ozturk will join trade unionists and politicians as they launch the Free the HDP campaign with a series of events that include a meeting at Westminster’s Portcullis House hosted by Labour MPs Chris Williamson and Kate Osamor. The campaigners are hoping for the backing of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
HDP officials in Ankara are pleading for “solidarity with the ones standing up for freedom and justice in Turkey.” In a letter to Mr Corbyn HDP foreign affairs spokesman Hisyar Ozsoy said that Mr Erdogan’s “authoritarian regime” has been systematically silencing critical voices systematically and censoring news coverage.
The letter describes how politicians, journalists, intellectuals and academics have been arrested and imprisoned, including HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuskekdag.
The pair were arrested during a series of raids across Turkey in November 2016 and have been held in Turkish prisons on pre-trial detention.
Mr Ozsoy asserts: “There is no democracy without an opposition,” calling on British MPs, trade unionists and progressive organisations to back the campaign to free the MPs.
Ms Gilbert told the Star that there was a “shocking silence” about the actions of the Turkish state to undermine the HDP, “a party with a huge democratic mandate.”
She said that party representatives were “risking their life and liberty” to represent the democratic wishes of more than six million voters in Turkey and should be a “major vessel for solidarity from socialists around the world.
“At this crucial juncture, silence is equivalent to complicity, and our collective failure to speak out in support for the HDP has to change.
“On November 1 we have an opportunity to demand, loudly: Free the HDP.”