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A PROVINCIAL office of Turkey’s People’s Democratic Party (HDP) was torched today amid rising attacks on the pro-Kurdish opposition grouping across the country.
Party officials warned of a “political genocide” against Turkey’s Kurdish population after widespread arrests of HDP activists and the breaking-up of political meetings.
They told the Star that more than 140 people have been arrested since election campaigning began, including a woman at a rally in the southern province of Sanliurfa who was detained for wearing green, red and yellow ribbons in her hair — colours associated with Kurdish culture.
In today’s attack — the third in three days — assailants set fire to the party’s office in the Black Sea province of Bolu after failing to smash the door in.
HDP co-chair for Bolu Ibrahim Yolci said he found flammable liquid on the door, but when he reported this to the local police, officers dismissed the idea that the attack was politically motivated, blaming the arson attempt on “drunks who did not know what they were doing.”
Nonetheless, local party officials said they had evidence that fascist groups were behind the attacks and lawyer Raziye Turgut filed a lawsuit against the authorities.
“We have the information that the candidate of the MHP [Nationalist Movement Party] was involved in the burning of HDP flags,” Mr Turgut said.
“We will report all attackers as well as the security forces for neglecting their duties and denying them punishment. We also demand protection for the party members threatened with their lives.”
Mr Yolci said that the deputy provincial governor had accused the legal political party of being linked to terrorism when he and HDP parliamentary candidates had a meeting with him about the attack.
“He told us: ‘The leaders of your party are imprisoned for terror. There are 290 people of you here who are detained for terror. Because you do not distance yourself from terror, there is a certain sensitivity here’,” Mr Yolci said.
“We were also told that we should not hang our flags. We reminded him that we are a political party and left his office. Actually, we wanted to achieve something for our safety.”
In the eastern city of Van, four HDP activists were arrested today for distributing election leaflets, while police in Diyarbakir in the south-east removed party flags, saying: “There is no election office on the street,” but the ruling party’s flags in place.
Parliamentary and presidential elections are due on June 24.
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