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TURKEY’S opposition People’s Democratic Party (HDP) has warned that the arrest and detention of hundreds of its activists and MPs is aimed at paralysing the party ahead of next year’s local elections.
HDP vice co-chair Hisyar Ozsoy, MP for the south-eastern city of Diyarbakir, vowed that the “political struggle” would continue “until we build a democratic country” for all, despite the clampdown which saw more than 200 detained in the last week.
He said violent police raids took place across several provinces, with HDP supporters detained on trumped-up charges, including some related to posts on social media.
“Such political pressures on the HDP and the Kurds have become a widespread practice before general and local elections to paralyse the HDP as a political rival.
“And it is surely not a coincidence that before each such mass police operation, [ruling party] AKP officials, especially President Erdogan, have portrayed the HDP as a target to be eliminated.
“After June 24 elections, Erdogan threatened HDP members and supporters by saying: ‘Those who support the HDP to enter the parliament will be brought to account’,” Mr Ozsoy pointed out.
Last Saturday, 49 HDP administrators and members were arrested in raids when police smashed down the doors of homes in Ankara, Mus, Agri, Mardin and Urfa provinces.
Those taken into custody included the Batman province co-chairs Nizamettin Toguc and Berivan Helen Isik, with the latter allegedly beaten by security force personnel during her arrest.
A further 120 HDP members and supporters were arrested on Tuesday, including Diyarbakir party co-chair Mehmet Serif Camci and administrators of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK). Journalists were also held in the raids across Turkey.
HDP officials expect more arrests as the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its far-right nationalist coalition partner the MHP try to eliminate all opposition ahead of the March 2019 poll.
Mr Ozsoy told the Star: “We expect that the AKP-MHP alliance will continue to make use of such unlawful police violence and the power of the courts to silence any dissenting voice in the country in the run-up to the elections.
“Those who think that they can intimidate the HDP with such pressures should look at the results of June 24 elections, before which thousands of our administrators and members were arrested.
“Our political struggle will continue until we build a democratic country for all sectors of the society in Turkey.”
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