Turkey: People's Democratic Party leaders arrested

Urgent appeal to demand their immediate release

During the night of the third of November, the homes of several leaders and members of parliament of the left-wing and pro-Kurdish party, HDP (People's Democratic Party) were raided by Turkish police. The two co-chairs of the party, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, along with at least nine members of parliament, were arrested and taken into custody.

The party’s headquarters in Ankara was also violently raided. These raids took place in the middle of the night, and were coupled with the usual state method of shutting down social media – obvious attempts to stop people’s angry reactions from spreading.

This follows the detention, last Sunday, of the two HDP co-mayors of the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir. Over the last few months, democratically elected Kurdish mayors were arbitrarily discharged by the government and replaced by appointed administrators who act according to the central government's will. All this is taking place under the cover of the struggle against "terrorism", a label used at the regime's convenience to silence any opposition voice.

These new arrests, targeting influential figures of the HDP and of the Kurdish movement, are an unprecedented move. They mark a new stage in the repression taking place in Turkey against everything that stands on the way of President Erdogan and his ruling party, the AKP, strengthening their grip on power.

The HDP is in the line of fire as it is the main opposition force in the country that has not aligned itself with the so-called ‘national consensus’ following the attempted military coup of 15th July. The HDP is seen by Erdogan as the main political obstacle on the road to securing the necessary conditions to establish a presidential dictatorship.

Sweeping counter-coup

After this summer's failed coup, a sweeping counter-coup has taken place, with attacks on democratic rights in the country being stepped up dramatically. All voices of genuine opposition are being targeted; many academics, journalists and political activists were arrested, thousands of civil servants lost their jobs, and critical media outlets arbitrarily shut down. Last Monday, the editor and several staff members of ‘Cumhuriyet’, one of Turkey’s main opposition newspapers, were detained.

At the same time war is escalated to enhance Erdogan's prestige and regional ambitions. This heightens the risk of more bloodshed and insecurity for all the people of Turkey, Kurdistan and the region, at large.  

Sosyalist Alternatif, and the whole CWI, condemn these new arrests and demand the immediate release of all HDP representatives. We support grassroots mass mobilisation and protests and to not fall into the trap of responding to the state's provocations by individual actions of violence. A car explosion this morning in Diyarbakir, possibly in response to the arrests, which killed at least eight people, is the kind of counter-productive response that will only make the regime's repressive and divisive aims easier. Such acts undermine the building of an effective movement of united opposition to Erdogan’s rule.  

More than ever, what is needed is working people's unity and solidarity against repression, terror and war. The workers’ and student movement and the rest of the left, on both sides of the ethnic divide, need to come together to discuss an urgent response to the Turkish state's onslaught. Mass demonstrations and strikes should be organised across the country, assisted by actions of international solidarity, to build a sustained struggle capable of challenging Erdogan's policies.

  • Free all HDP MP's and leaders immediately
  • Reinstate the democratically-elected mayors
  • End the state of emergency and all persecutions against dissenting voices
  • For full democratic rights, including the right to organise and protest
  • For freedom of expression, of the press and media
  • No to new wars and occupations, bring the troops home
  • For united protests across Turkey and internationally, as a starting point to build the fightback against Erdogan's rule
  • Down with Erdogan and the capitalist AKP regime  

Please send letters of protest the Turkish Ministry of Justice at: info@adalet.gov.tr, with copies to cwi@worldsoc.co.uk