Ongoing Detentions and Arrests against HDP

The detention and arrest campaign against Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and its constituent parties and organizations continues incessantly. On 28 December, Ms. Aysel Tuğluk, Vice Co-chair of HDP in charge of Human Rights and Legal Affairs, Mr. Seydi Fırat, Vice-co-chair of Democratic Regions Party (DBP), Mr. Cabbar Leygara, Co-chair of HDP’s Diyarbakır province, Edip Yaşar, Cafer Kan, Baki Karadeniz, Ramazan Özbek, Halis Bilen, and Mehmet Baysal were arrested and sent to prison with the charge of “leadership and/or membership in a terrorist organization.” All have worked in the Democratic Society Congress between 2011 and 2014. 

Ms. Tuğluk served as an MP between 2007 and 2015. She was the co-chair of Democratic Society Party (DTP), which was banned by the Constitutional Court in 2009, and co-chair of Democratic Society Congress between 2007 and 2011. Ms. Tuğluk is a lawyer by profession and a well-known human rights activist before her career in politics. As HDP’s Co-chair in charge of Human Rights and Legal Affairs, she was also the coordinator of the defense team for HDP’s arrested co-chairs and MPs. HDP has been confronted with a new wave of mass arrests. Only since 12 December 2016, at least 944 HDP executives, members or supporters from 36 provinces were detained, among them 19 province and 56 district co-chairs. Many are still in police custody, while 161 of them have been arrested. The detention of 46 province and district executives of HDP’s Istanbul organization, who have been in anti-terror police custody for more than two weeks now and whose detention was extended for another week before testifying at the prosecutor’s office, is representative of the general situation. 

Since the AKP government’s abortion of the peace process in July 2015, the number of detained HDP executives, members, and supporters has reached 8,711. As of 29 December, the number of those arrested stands at 2,705. The fact that at least 4,457 (more than half) of the detentions and 1,275 of the arrests have happened after the coup attempt on 15 July 2016 is indicative of how the government has been using the coup attempt as an opportunity to eliminate the HDP and the democratic opposition at large, who has taken a clear stance against the coup attempt.

HDP’s Co-chairs Mr. Selahattin DEMİRTAŞ and Ms. Figen YÜKSEKDAĞ were arrested along with 10 parliamentarians, including two deputy chairs of HDP parliamentarian group on 4 November and 12 December 2016. Since July 2015, 29 province and 57 district co-chairs of HDP and its constituent parties and organizations have been arrested. Also, 4 Central Executive Board Members, 4 party assembly members, and more than 750 province and district executives of HDP have been sent to prison. 

The Democratic Regions Party (DBP) – a major constituent of HDP - and the Kurdish municipalities run by mayors affiliated with the DBP have been particularly targeted in this process. Ms. Sebahat Tuncel, Co-chair of DBP, has been in prison since 6 November 2016. Two Central Executive Board members and tens of party assembly members of DBP are in prison, while DBP’s province and district organizations are almost totally paralyzed due to mass arrests. So-far 69 elected Kurdish co-mayors affiliated with the DBP have been arrested. The Ministry of Interior has also dismissed 58 co-mayors.

The AKP government has appointed 50 bureaucrats (“trustees”) to replace the dismissed co-mayors, effectively annulling the local elections. It needs to be highlighted that the women’s movement has been among the foremost targets of this campaign of repression. Not only is the number of detained or arrested women politicians exceptionally high, but also the targeted women have been dedicated politicians or activists in the quest for gender equality and freedom. Almost all departments developing and implementing specific policies for women, social and solidarity centers and facilities to overcome violence against women, and women’s shelters supported or run by DBP municipalities have been closed after the central government had appointed bureaucrats to replace elected mayors. The scale of the assault on women’s achievements and freedoms extends far beyond what can be expressed in numerical terms. This brief overview of the incessant attacks on the HDP and its constituent parties and organizations clearly reveals the Erdogan-AKP regime’s policies to totally render the HDP dysfunctional. But it also testifies to the perseverance and resilience shown by the HDP in the face of such injustice and brutalities. We will continue our struggle for peace, democracy, and justice and we invite the democratic international community to act in solidarity.

Hişyar Özsoy
Deputy Co-chair of HDP Responsible for Foreign Affairs
Member of Parliament
02 January 2017