The opposition HDP is the only faction in the country to condemn Turkey’s actions in northern Syria. But the government does not allow criticism.
HDP co-chair Sezai Temelli protests against the arrest of HDP politicians in Diyarbakır Photo: reuters
A few days after Turkish troops invaded northern Syria, whole bunches of police blocked the doors of offices of the opposition HDP party. Inside, deputies and their staff tried desperately to get out. This prevented MPs in several cities in southeastern Turkey from making critical statements to the press about the military operation in northern Syria. To this day, several HDP offices are cordoned off by the police.
The underlying intention is clear: anyone who wants to protest against the military operation is silenced.
Since the beginning of the operation, hundreds of people have been arrested for critical postings on social media. The repression focuses primarily on members of the Kurdish-left HDP, whom the Turkish government accuses of sympathizing with the Kurdish PKK, which it classifies as a terrorist organization and which the military is fighting in Syria.
This repression is barely noticed by the Turkish mainstream media. Even when the HDP faction walked out of parliament on Tuesday in protest of the arrest of several mayors, it was barely noticed. All other factions in Turkey, including the opposition, support the struggle of "our soldiers."
With raids and arrests
As early as mid-October, there were raids on the HDP-ruled town halls of Hakkâri, Yuksekova, Ercis and Nusaybin, all towns in the Iraqi and Syrian border areas traditionally dominated by the HDP. A day later, five mayors and deputy mayors from these towns were arrested. The charge is always the same: support or membership in a terrorist organization.
Last week, the Interior Ministry appointed receivers in Hakkâri, Yuksekova and Nusaybin. While Hakkâri and Yuksekova are located directly on the Iraqi border, Nusaybin is the northern continuation of the Kurdish megacity of Kamishli on the Syrian side of the border. Many families who have relatives on the Syrian side live here.
Earlier this week, the mayor of Diyarbakır, the largest Kurdish city, Selcuk Mızraklı, was also arrested. Already on 19. On August 8, he was thrown out of office on the pretext that he had provided financial support to the PKK. Two district mayors of Diyarbakır also ended up in pre-trial detention with him.
The repression is having an effect: While Kurds are taking to the streets in Europe, Turkey remains largely silent. While there was a real euphoria after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s defeats in the local elections, the frustration among HDP members is now all the greater. "We can’t do anything right now," one HDP member from Izmir said by phone. "We are staying at home."