Nationwide protests after the kidnapping of HDP member

After the kidnapping of the HDP Youth Assembly co-spokesperson by alleged employees of the Turkish secret service became known, protest actions took place in many cities of Northern Kurdistan and Turkey.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Central Executive Board (MYK) member and HDP Youth Assembly Co-spokesperson Serhat Aktumur was kidnapped by three persons in the central district of Kayapınar in Amed (Diyarbakır) province. After refusing to join the “conversation” by the group, the HDP member battered and was forced into a car where he was subjected to violence.

According to Aktumur, he was taken out of the car blindfolded in the city forest on the road to Silvan. There he was warned by one of the kidnappers, who called himself "Commissioner Nihat", that he was not allowed to go to the IHD human rights organization or to address the media. He was told: "If we see you here again, we'll shoot you in the head." Following this threat, he was abandoned in the forest.

Numerous people in Northern Kurdistan and Turkey have taken to the streets on Saturday to protest against the kidnapping method known from the 1990s. Besides actions in the Kurdish metropolises Urfa, Mardin, Van, Şırnak, Batman and Amed, there were protests and rallies in Ankara, İzmir, Adana, Antalya and Istanbul as well. The motto of the actions was "The youth will not bend".

Aktumur is not the first person who was kidnapped and mistreated by "security forces" in Turkey and North Kurdistan. Within the last six months, six more cases have come to light in which people were kidnapped in the open street and forced to act as agents under death threats. When they refused the offer, they were beaten and left on the side of the road. In most cases, activists of the HDP Youth Assembly are targeted by this method.

Yusuf Acar, a member of the HDP Youth Assembly in Ankara, attributes this to the fact that the nationally organized youth assemblies of their party are at the forefront of the struggle against the Turkish government's oppressive policies. "We are constantly illegalized and our work is criminalized. Hundreds of members have been arrested since the establishment of our structures, dozens are in prison without any legal basis," Acar said at a rally in front of the HDP headquarters in the Çankaya district.

Well-known JITEM method

The co-chair of HDP Istanbul provincial branch, Erdal Avcı, pointed out in a speech the parallels to the events of the early 1990s, when the "disappearance" of unwanted persons was part of Turkey's agenda. This method of JITEM-the informal secret service of the Turkish military police-was particularly popular in Kurdish cities. "Step by step we are approaching this dark period again. Our friends are also affected by illegal and mafia-like practices emanating from supposed security forces," said Avcı.

Members of the "Students' Initiative" and the anarchist youth collective "Karala" also announced that they would initiate a new campaign against the kidnapping cases under the umbrella of the HDP Youth Assembly.

MP Kenanoğlu: Minister of the Interior is responsible

During the protest in Istanbul, HDP MP Ali Kenanoğlu accused Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu of "mafia-like machinations". He said it was not surprising that parallels were drawn in AKP-led Turkey to the situation in the early 1990s, as after all Soylu did not behave like an interior minister, but rather like a mafia godfather.

The HDP deputy said: "The sole responsibility for these incidents lies with Soylu. He is constantly threatening our party leaders and other opposition politicians. He uses methods that are known elsewhere only from mafia-like, clan-like structures. Therefore, he should not be called minister, but clan leader.”

Another HDP MP Musa Piroğlu said: “In the behavior of Soylu and the entire security apparatus we see the concept of a regime that is losing strength. The crises are causing the power base of president Erdoğan to crumble. Support is dwindling in both domestic and foreign policy. Well-known methods are being used to guarantee that power is maintained.”