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HDP democracy march concludes with Ankara rally

TURKEY’s Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has vowed to continue its “determined and uncompromising” opposition, as its five-day march for democracy concluded with a rally in Ankara on Saturday.

Crowds welcomed the delegations after twin marches that set off from Hakkari in the south-east and Edirne in the north-west arrived in the Turkish capital despite pressure from the state.

HDP co-chairs Pervin Buldan and Mithat Sancar spoke to those gathered in Parliament Park, including trade unionists, party members and representatives of other democratic organisations, saying that “the hope of the people has grown” because of the march.

But they said that while the action had reached its destination — “bringing the social struggle to the streets, the parks and everywhere” — the party’s nine-point Democratic Struggle Programme would continue until World Peace Day on September 1.

“The essence of this programme is to defend democracy, rights and law, justice and freedoms against coup politics,” the pair said.

“We marched for the economic and social rights of millions … for the demands of employment of millions, for a democratic solution to the Kurdish problem, for a democratic constitution and for all individuals who wants free and equal citizenship, for women, for the youth, for workers, for the poor, for the unemployed.”

The march was initiated after the jailing of HDP MPs Leyla Guven and Musa Farisollugari and Republican People’s Party MP Enis Berberoglu earlier this month, in what was branded a “coup against democracy.”

The HDP has borne the brunt of such attacks. Some 15,000 of its members have been detained since 2015, with 6,000 of those receiving jail sentences. About 200 elected officials and seven MPs are still behind bars.

After President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party suffered humiliation in last year’s local elections, he once again moved against the HDP — taking over 51 of the 65 municipalities won by the party in the largely Kurdish south-east.

The HDP Women’s Assembly, which recently launched its Women’s Struggle Everywhere campaign, credited the march for letting it connect with participating individuals and organisations.

Activist Feride Erlap stressed the importance of the HDP’s campaign for women to be autonomous, make their own decisions and influence party policy.

“We want all women in the Grand Assembly to be united and oppose, especially the law on amnesty for the perpetrators of child abuse that will be presented in the parliament.”

The sickening child-rape law, which would allow paedophiles to escape prosecution if they marry their victim, is due to be brought to parliament at any time.

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