Arrests ordered of Turkish opposition - MPs night-time raids - HDP supporters targeted - World watches as Erdogan silences dissent
by Steve Sweeney
TURKEY is moving towards dictatorship and the “end of democracy,” MPs warned as one of the country’s darkest days saw a “coup” against opposition politicians yesterday.
People’s Democratic Party (HDP) co-leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag were jailed yesterday along with five other MPs following their arrest in night-time raids on Thursday. Warrants were put out for the remaining legislators.
The MPs are charged with supporting the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), which has been labelled a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU and the US.
Appearing in court yesterday Mr Demirtas said that he “won’t be a puppet in this trumped-up judicial theatre, which is started by the order of Erdogan.” In a defiant response, Ms Yuksekdag said: “We fear neither prison nor death. We have nothing to hide or lose.”
The UN human rights commission called the arrests “unacceptable,” while European Parliament president Martin Schulz said: “Today’s detentions send a chilling signal about the state of political pluralism in Turkey.”
President Recep Erdogan has been accused of waging “all out war” on the Kurdish people as he tightens his grip on Turkey.
HDP foreign affairs spokeperson Hisyar Ozsoy said that the party was being targeted as its MPs were standing in the way of Erdogan’s “goal to introduce a presidential system in Turkey.”
An HDP tweet called for the “international community to react against Erdogan regime’s coup,” as police raided the party headquarters.
The Turkish government moved swiftly to block access to social media across the country following the arrests.
EU Commission vice-president Federica Mogherini called an emergency meeting of EU ambassadors in Ankara saying that she was “extremely worried” at the arrests.
Protesters took to the streets worldwide against the crackdown, including in Britain.
Hundreds attended an emergency protest at the BBC HQ in the early hours of yesterday morning before moving on to 10 Downing Street. The demonstration marched to the Turkish embassy.
Peace in Kurdistan campaign coordinator Estella Schmid urged the government and MPs to “get to Diyarbakir and witness the atrocities being committed against the people.”
“This is an all-out war on the Kurdish people,” she said.
DTK co-chair Leyla Güven told a press conference “Words have become obsolete. Today is the day to resist.”
Solidarity with the People of Turkey spokesman Oktay Sahbaz accused the government of “collusion with the Erdogan regime, calling for the release of the MPs and those arrested under the “purge on opposition media.”
Mr Ozsoy said that more arrests were anticipated as Erdogan “attempts to shut down Turkey’s third-largest party.”
He called it a “dark day not only for our party but for all of Turkey and the region as it means the end of democracy in Turkey.”
Thousands of members, executives, elected mayors and city council members affiliated with the HDP and/or sister party BDP have been sent to prison since the election in June 2015.
MPs’ immunity from prosecution was controversially removed in May in a move widely seen as an attack on opposition politicians.
Demanding the immediate release of those arrested Mr Ozsoy called upon “friends around the world to stand in solidarity in our struggle to stop Erdogan steering the country into a civil war and further despotism.”