Update on the Arrest of HDP Co-chairs and MPs

04.11.2016 (10:30PM)

Last night the purge of President Erdogan against our party has reached another peak: our Co-Chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yüksekdag, along with ten further Members of Parliament (MP) of our party, namely Nursel Aydogan, Idris Baluken, Leyla Birlik, Ferhat Encü, Selma Irmak, Sirri Süreyya Önder, Ziya Pir, Imam Tascier, Gülser Yildirim and Abdullah Zeydan have been detained across Turkey last night. Today, Demirtas, Yüksekdag, Aydogan, Baluken, Birlik, Encü, Irmak, Zeydan and Yildirim have been arrested by court order and sent to prison. Pir, Önder and Tascier have been released on probation. More arrests are to be expected. The goal of these measures is to shut down the third largest party in parliament. This is 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. 

Ever since our party reached a historic victory during the national elections of June 7, 2015, when we succeeded to enter parliament despite the undemocratic 10% threshold, President Erdogan has singled out our party as the main target of his authoritarian policies. The reason is our principled opposition against his goal to introduce a presidential system in Turkey. Our seats in parliament are the biggest obstacles to the necessary constitutional changes. Thus, he simply ordered new elections in November 2015. Despite a series of violent assaults by “unknown perpetrators” on our party members and infrastructure, we managed once again to surpass the threshold on November 5, 2015 and won 59 seats in Parliament. Since he could not re-order elections another time, President Erdogan initiated the lifting of the immunity of our MPs in May 2016. As he could not prevent us from entering Parliament, he now orders us into prison. 

Thousands of members, executives, elected mayors and city council members affiliated with the HDP and/or our sister party DBP have already been sent to prison on groundless charges since our electoral victory in June 2015. Yet the coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and the subsequent declaration of a state of emergency has been the welcome opportunity for President Erdogan to eliminate all opposition. There is no freedom of expression and no freedom of press, no academic freedom, and no fair and independent judicial system any more. With government decrees gaining the power of law, over 170 media outlets critical of Erdogan have been banned. More than 130 journalists are in prison, including world-renowned authors and intellectuals. Most recently, two Kurdish news agencies and several Kurdish dailies were closed down and the chief-editor, columnists and journalists of the daily Cumhuriyet have been detained. More than 80,000 people have been detained since July 15, and about half of them are in prison now.

On October 30, Ms. Gültan Kisanak and Mr. Firat Anli,  elected co-mayors of Diyarbakir from our party, were arrested and sent to prison. A district governor from Ankara was appointed to run the municipality. With this, the number of Kurdish municipalities run by bureaucrats appointed by the central government increased to 28. About 30 democratically elected Kurdish mayors are now in prison, and about 70 of them were dismissed by the central government.  

We strongly condemn the arrests of our Co-Chairs Selahattin Demirtas, Figen Yüksekdag as well as our MPs and demand their immediate release. The manufactured charges against them and all other party members must be dropped. History has shown over and over again that any power based on brute force is outlived by the struggle for justice and freedom. We will not surrender to these dictatorial policies and call upon our friends around the world to stand in solidarity in our struggle to prevent Erdogan to steer the country into a civil war and further despotism. 

As of this moment, we have received the first messages since their arrest by our Co-Chairs Figen Yüksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas through their lawyers, which we want to share with you: 

Co-Chair Figen Yüksekdag:

We are proud of our peoples. It is an honor to represent your will. Never lose your joy and resilience!

Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtas: 

We are faced with another stage in the ongoing civilian coup that is led by the government and the presidential palace. My friends and I will continue to stand tall against this unlawful coup everywhere and at every stage. We want it to be known that we will stay true to the struggle for democracy, freedom and peace that our people are so devotedly carrying forward.  

Sooner or later, our resistance will bring an end to these days of tyranny. Those who think that they can break our will are only revealing their own misery with their cheap plots. Whatever the conditions, we will continue our democratic and political struggle. We will continue to repeat our calls for peace. We extend our most sincere greetings and love to all of our friends.

Hisyar Ozsoy, Ph.D.
Vice Co-chair of HDP Responsible for Foreign Affairs
Member of Parliament for Bingol