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Turkey Jailed former mayor appears in court unable to speak after the beating she received, HDP warns

TURKEY’S opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) called for action from the international community today, warning of a “political lynching” after a jailed former mayor was beaten so badly she was unable to speak during a court hearing.

Dilek Hatipoglu was subjected to a forced strip-search when she was transferred from Ankara’s Sinan prison to a T-Type jail in the largely Kurdish south-eastern province of Van last week.

After she refused prison guards’ orders to undress at the entrance of the jail, she was taken out of sight of security cameras and assaulted by three guards, who beat her and tore her clothing off. 

When the former mayor of Hakkari, who was jailed for more than 16 years in 2016, appeared in court on Friday in another legal case against her, she had a clearly visible black eye and was unable to offer a plea due to injuries inflicted during the assault.

The HDP told the Morning Star of “a severe increase in political pressure against the HDP, including cases of torture,” which has escalated since the Turkish army was humiliated in operations against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Iraqi Kurdistan last week.

More than 700 members and supporters have been detained in raids across 40 of Turkey’s provinces in the wake of the military’s defeat in the Gare mountains during Operation Claw Eagle 2.

“Since the general elections in 2018, more than 800 summaries of proceedings have been brought to the Turkish parliament for HDP deputies,” Feleknas Uca and Hisyar Ozsoy  of the party told the Star.

Prosecutors are seeking life behind bars for 108 senior HDP MPs and officials, including jailed former co-chairs Figen Yuksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas.

They face trumped-up charges in the Kobani case, holding them responsible for the deaths of 43 people killed by the Turkish security services during protests in 2014 against the government, which was preventing aid and support from reaching the Syrian border city, which was under siege by Isis jihadists.

Co-chair Pervin Buldan said that “black propaganda” was being used against the party to deflect attention from the military disaster inflicted on Nato’s second-largest army.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu has smeared both the HDP and the Human Rights Association, claiming that they are terrorist organisations linked to the PKK.

The HDP called on him to resign today after he claimed that the party’s MP for Agri, Dilan Dirayet Tasdemir, had visited the Gare mountains,where 13 Turkish soldiers were killed in an alleged chemical attack by their own fighter jets.

Ms Tasdemir accused Mr Soylu of “a big lie and slander,” with the HDP saying that footage shown on state TV in fact showed a visit to the Qandil mountains made with the knowledge and approval of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Calls for Mr Soylu’s resignation were echoed by London Bogazici Solidarity, a group of British-based Turkish and Kurdish community organisations, including Gik-Der, which is waging a united struggle in solidarity with those fighting for democracy and against fascism in Turkey.

On Sunday, Mr Soylu attempted to link to the PKK more than 500 people detained in mass protests against the imposition of a government-appointed rector at an elite Istanbul university, labelling them and their families terrorists.

London Bogazici Solidarity spokesman Ibo Avcil said that Mr Soylu must resign “with immediate effect” and called his threatening remarks unacceptable.

“The Interior Ministry aims to delegitimise the protests through this action. The fascist regime in Turkey aims to destroy all public opposition and the attacks on the HDP and other resistances  are closely linked,” he said.

The party reaffirmed its commitment to the struggle for democracy despite the state pressure, vowing to “keep the promise that we have given to our people to do all we can to achieve a democratic, peaceful country.”

Messages of solidarity can be sent to hdpeurope@skynet.be.

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