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BRITAIN was accused of being complicit with fascism in failing to speak out following today’s “political coup against democracy” in Turkey as authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan moved against the People’s Democratic Party (HDP).
About 500 arrests were made as pro-Kurdish politicians, journalists and activists were targeted by Turkey’s tyrannical ruler in what was branded a “coup against the will of the people.”
Rights campaigners warned that “Turkish dictator Erdogan” is able to get away with the “extrajudicial manoeuvres” against the HDP — a sister party of Britain’s Labour Party — because “the rest of the world is looking away.”
Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign secretary Rosa Gilbert told the Star that Britain’s political support for Mr Erdogan — who was hosted by then prime minister Theresa May on a state visit last year — gives him the confidence to carry out mass oppression in Turkey.
“The HDP desperately need international solidarity right now,” she said, adding: “It is a blot on anyone’s conscience who denies them support in these tough times.”
At least 418 HDP activists and elected councillors were arrested, with more expected as sources told the Star of a list of people that were to be rounded up up by the state.
Raids took place in 29 cities as authorities detained the elected mayors of three municipalities — Van, Mardin and Diyarbakir — in the largely Kurdish south-east of the country.
Veteran Kurdish politician Ahmet Turk, who was elected with 56 per cent of the vote in Mardin, was freed on health grounds — but he was replaced by government-appointed trustee Mustafa Yaman.
He said: “Reason or logic is not enough to explain this. We are going through a period where unlawfulness peaks. They don’t recognise the will of the people and they call this democracy.”
Van mayor Bedia Ozgokce Ertan, who was elected with 54 per cent of the vote, and Diyarbakir mayor Adnan Selcuk Mizrakli, who received 63 per cent of the vote, were also arrested and replaced with trustees.
Twenty people were arrested in Adana based on “social media shares” as the HDP warned of a “new and clear political coup.”
An emergency statement warned: “Today we see once again the face of the AKP [Justice & Development Party] and MHP [Nationalist Movement Party] alliance: usurpation of the will of the people, state violence to prevent election results they don’t like.”
The HDP said the people will never accept the attacks by the Turkish state and called on support from all democratic forces, including trade unions.
“We can only win democracy through the common and determined struggle of the forces of democracy,” the party said, adding: “Don’t remain silent, silence is approval.”
Scores of arrests were made and water cannon and tear gas used as people gathered to protest in the largely Kurdish city of Diyarbakir.
Similar demonstrations held across the country were met by a brutal response from the authorities, who moved to crush dissent.
Ten people were taken into custody in the capital Ankara, including HDP executive member Betul Koca, who was seen being dragged across the floor by police.
The attacks came days after the sale of British Steel to the Turkish army’s pension fund was announced.
Branded “blood money” by Kurdish activists, they warned that the sale further emboldened Turkey’s leader, creating the conditions that allow the crushing of democracy.
The British Labour Party was contacted for comment on the move against its sister party, whose former leaders Figen Yuksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas face the rest of their lives in jail on trumped-up terrorism charges.
Britain’s Foreign Office did not respond to the Star’s request for comment after it was informed of the mass arrests.
Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazard called on the international community to put pressure on the Turkish state over its treatment of “democratically elected representatives of the Kurdish people.
“The international community should make their voice heard and challenge the oppression of the Turkish state against the Kurdish people and their democratically elected representatives.
“Sinn Fein will continue to stand by the Kurdish people in their campaign,” he told the Star.
Mezopotamya News Agency Kurdish editor Ziyan Karahan was held after her home was raided this morning. The media organisation is frequently targeted by the authorities.
National Union of Journalists general secretary Michelle Stanistreet told the Star: “The latest arrest of Ziyan Karahan is a further example of the unacceptable and ongoing targeting of journalists and journalism.”
She called on the international community to be more forceful in its condemnation of the Turkish government, which has jailed more journalists than any other country.
British-based Turkish and Kurdish organisation Gik-Der warned of the British government’s complicity and said: “Turkish President Erdogan is becoming an increasingly totalitarian dictator on the watch of European countries.
“While on the one hand the British government brags about its commitment to human rights and democracy, on the other hand it walks shoulder to shoulder with and supports dictators of countries such as Turkey.”
It called for people to take to the streets in protest and for “urgent solidarity actions with the Kurdish people and working-class organisations in Turkey.”
Gik-Der demanded the British government consider its relationship with the Turkish state.
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