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Fears raised over ‘forced disappearance’ of ESP activist in Istanbul

FEARS have been raised over the forced disappearance of a supporter of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) who was last seen bundled into the back of a police car in Istanbul on Wednesday.

CCTV footage showed construction worker Gokhan Gunes being abducted by security services shortly after a hospital appointment.

But he has not been seen since with lawyers saying that local police and anti-terror units have all denied holding the political activist, leading to fears that he has come to harm and may even have been killed.

Solicitor Sezgin Ucar explained that police were aware of the political activities of Mr Gunes, who had been subjected to threats and harassment by Turkish state forces prior to his disappearance.

It is alleged that police had pressed him to become a spy, a common tactic used by Turkish authorities. But ESP said that this refusal led to his kidnap on Wednesday.

In a statement at the Dersim branch of the Human Rights Association, ESP spokesman Cengiz Fidan said: "Fascism attacks socialists in order to prevent the rising anger of the masses from becoming a revolutionary force.”

He said that one of the methods used to stop socialists is through forced disappearances and pressure to become a state agent as it aims “to dismantle the organised structures of the vanguard forces.”

Last week some 48 ESP members, including MPs, were detained in President Erdogan’s latest move against the left-wing party, which was founded by jailed former HDP co-chair Figen Yuksekdag in 2010.

The Marxist organisation is a constituent of the HDP which itself is under intense pressure from the state with some 20,000 members detained since 2016 and 10,000 jailed.

This includes around 200 elected officials and at least seven MPs while more than 50 of the 65 directly elected HDP mayors have been removed from their posts, replaced with government-appointed trustees.

Tens of thousands of leftists, trade unionists and other political dissidents were disappeared by the Turkish state following the 1980 coup. The practice has continued and Kurdish and Turkish organisations fear a slide back into the darkness.

Ibrahim Avcil, spokesman for the Gik-Der Kurdish and Turkish community organisation in Britain called for Amnesty International to launch an urgent campaign for Mr Gokhan reminding the human rights group in a letter of “the historic human rights violations in Turkey.”

Amnesty have been contacted for comment.

Messages of solidarity can be sent to gikderuk@gmail.com

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