Erdogan’s Coup: Turkey Arrests more HDP Members including MPs and Party Leaders
Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : Turkish authorities arrested more than 12 members of the left-wing People’s Democratic Party (HDP) over alleged links to terrorism and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party PKK. The arrests make the end of democracy in Turkey, said the HDP. Meanwhile, the ruling AKP continues to push for the reinstatement of the death penalty and for constitutional change to introduce a presidential system.
HDP Vice Co-Chair and the party’s Chief of Foreign Affairs, Hisyar Ozsoy, told the press that the goal of these arrests and other measures against leading HDP members is to shut down the third-largest party represented in parliament. Ozsoy described the day of the arrests as “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”.
Ozsoy that ever since the party achieved an historic victory during the June 2015 national elections, where the party succeeded at overcoming “the undemocratic 10 percent threshold”, President R. Tayyip Erdogan has “singled out our party as the main target of his authoritarian policies”.
The HDP Vice Co-Chair and the party’s Chief of Foreign Affairs stressed that the reason for the oppression is the party’s principled opposition against constitutional change that would introduce a presidential system. Ozsoy added that the HDP seats in parliament are the biggest obstacles to the constitutional changes that Erdogan has been seeking.
Ozsoy noted that Erdogan and the AKP, in May 2016, initiated a campaign aimed at lifting the immunity of the HDP’s members of parliament. Ozsoy stressed that Erdogan and the AKP could not “rearrange” the election results and prevent HDP members from entering parliament. “Consequently, he now orders our imprisonment”.
The HDP warned that thousands of party members, executives, elected mayors and city council members affiliated with the HDP and the HDP’s sister party DBP have already been sent to prison on ‘groundless charges’ since the HDP’s electoral victory in June 2015.
The HDP also underpins that 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 the whole opposition.
The party stressed that freedom of expression and a free press no longer exist in Turkey. The HDP also notes that academic freedom and a fair and independent judiciary no longer exist. The HDP stated:
“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”.
In addition to that 28 predominantly Kurdish municipalities are now run by bureaucrats appointed by the central government, and 30 democratically elected Kurdish mayors are now in prison, and about 70 others were dismissed by the central government. Hisyar Ozsoy stated:
“We strongly condemn the detainment of our Co-Chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yüksekdag, beside our Members of Parliament Nihat Akdogan, Nursel Aydogan, Idris Baluken, Leyla Birlik, Ferhat Encü, Selma Irmak, Sirri Süreyya Önder, Ziya Pir, Imam Tascier, Gülser Yildirim, Abdullah Zeydan. We demand their immediate release. The manufactured charges against them and all other party members must be dropped”.
Tom Malinowsky, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor said on Friday: “Press Freedom and internet access essential to democratic and economic health. Urge Turkey to restore information access to its citizens now. … When taking legal action against elected reps, democracies have higher duty to justify actions and preserve confidence in justice. As friend and ally, deeply troubled that government of Turkey has detained HDP leaders and other MPs while blocking internet access”.
However, the united States role in the “magical mystery coup” that was used more against HDP members and Kurds than against the Gülenists who allegedly were behind the coup.
The failed military coup in mid-July 2015 was blamed on the Turkish cleric Fetullah Gülen, the Hizmeth (Gülenist) movement and officers linked to what the AKP now describes as the Gülenist Terror Organization. Turkey also blamed the United States and demanded that Washington extradite Gülen to Turkey.
A demand Washington promptly rejected stressing that it could not extradite Gülen unless Ankara produced evidence. Fetullah Gülen and Gülenists have a long-standing, well-established history of cooperation with Turkish, US and NATO intelligence services.
Erdogan and Gülen’s relations soured in 2015, at least officially. Some analysts would note that Erdogan needed a scapegoat to detract from the AKP’s own role in a previous military purge under the banner of the notorious Ergenekon and Balyoz trials.
Identifying the Motive by Analyzing the Product and Function
Post-coup measures have, ironically, affected secular intellectuals, media and journalists, as well as opposition parties who criticized the AKP’s unilateral end of its ceasefire with the PKK more than it has affected “Gülenists”. In late August even Kemal Kılıcdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), criticized the government for going too far in the implementation of post-coup measures.
On July 21 nsnbc reported about the systematic clamp down on academics and intellectuals and teachers. Many if not most of them were secularists and not Gülenists, or opposing the AKP’s decision to unilaterally end the ceasefire and peace talks with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party – PKK. On July 25 nsnbc reported about the AKP government’s clampdown on allegedly “terrorism-linked” journalists.
On July 28 nsnbc published a comprehensive review of Turkey’s deadly track record concerning inconvenient journalists as dozens of media organizations were being locked down. The International Press Institute (IPI) expressed fears that Turkey will come to lead in jailed journalists again and called on Turkey’s international partners not to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses.
On August 4 nsnbc published a comprehensive article with statements made by the lawyers of PKK leader Abudullah Öcalan. The lawyers were being denied access to their client who has been in isolation for five years and expressed gravest concerns. The article was promptly censored by Facebook for violating community standards but the reader can of course read it HERE.
On August 28 nsnbc reported that Turkey’s air force had launched air strikes against PKK fighters in northern Iraq. That is, in violation of international law, without a mandate from Iraq or the Security Council. On September 5 nsnbc reported that Turkish authorities issued subpoenas for eight lawmakers from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) over their alleged involvement in the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK).
On September 8 nsnbc reported that Turkey’s Ministry of Education had suspended some 11,000 teachers over alleged links to the PKK. On September 15 nsnbc reported about renewed Turkish air strikes against the PKK in northern Iraq. On October 2 nsnbc reported that Turkey had unilaterally prolonged its mandate to conduct military operations in Syria and Iraq. That is, without authorization from either Syria or Iraq or a UN Security Council mandate.
On October 31 nsnbc reported that Metin Feyzioglu, the head of Turkey’s Bar Associations (TTB), said state of emergency decrees imposed by the government are unlawful and denounced the government of continuing to impose sweeping measures.
Also on October 31, nsnbc reported that Turkey’s 5th High Criminal Court in the southern Sanli Urfa province imposed a travel ban on Figen Yükesdag, a member of parliament elected in her predominantly Kurdish constituency and a member of Turkey’s Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
Discussions about the reinstatement of the death penalty under the above mentioned circumstances substantiates suspicions that Turkey is descending toward the status of a nationalist Islamo-fascist state, and that concerns about the implementation of a de-facto one-party dictatorship via constitutional change that adopts a presidential system are justified.
CH/L – nsnbc 05.11.2016