Former UK MEP Ward expresses concern about latest HDP arrests
Human rights defender and former Labour MEP for the North West, Julie Ward, wrote to Lisa Nandy MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, regarding the latest mass arrests of members of the HDP.
Human rights defender and former Labour MEP for the North West, Julie Ward, wrote to Lisa Nandy MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, regarding the latest mass arrests of members of the People's Democratic Party (HDP), Turkey's third-biggest party which, as Ward said, “champions the same values of democracy, social justice and equality as we hold dear in the Labour Party.”
Reminding that on September 25th the Turkish authorities issued arrest warrants for 82 people, including former mayors and MPs of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and the party’s current Central Executive Board, Ward added: “A further 17 HDP politicians were arrested on October 2nd. They are reported to be accused of serious crimes including murder and attempted murder, relating to the Kobane protests of October 2014, which took place as a result of the siege of the town of Kobane in northern Syria by ISIS and the inaction of the Turkish government in the face of an imminent ISIS massacre. During the protests, at least 43 people were killed. The overwhelming majority of these people were members or sympathisers of the HDP, and they were killed with Turkish police firearms.”
Ward reminded that “HDP MPs have so far tabled more than ten parliamentary proposals to establish an all-party parliamentary commission to investigate the protests, establish the truth, and help to clarify the identity of the provocateurs and instigators of violence. But all these proposals were refused by the ruling alliance of President Erdoğan's AKP and the extreme-right MHP.
It therefore appears that the government is seeking to put all the blame and responsibility on the HDP by means of a judiciary that is under its total control.”
HDP co-chair Mr Mithat Sancar has stated that this operation is a political action that is implemented “under the guise of a judicial decision.” President Erdoğan and the Turkish government were clearly irked by the defeat of ISIS by Kurdish fighters in Kobane in 2014. Since then, the government has been increasingly aggressive towards the HDP and these new arrests appear to be part of Erdoğan’s politics of revenge.
“Otherwise, - asked Ward - how can one explain the fact that the government is pursuing those who showed solidarity with the Kobane resistance even six years after the event? Another interesting point is that some of the people recently arrested have been previously arrested, prosecuted and acquitted for the exact same charges, such as the co-mayor of Kars, Mr Ayhan Bilgen. Since 2015, about 16,000 HDP members and administrators have been detained, and over 5,000 of them were later arrested and sent to prisons, along with journalists, academics, teachers, artists, lawyers and trade unionists. The party's former co-chairs, members of parliament, dozens of elected mayors, and countless members and administrators small remain behind bars.”
Ward ended her letter saying: “I urge you to raise the issue of these recent politically motivated arrests with the Foreign Office as a matter of urgency.”