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Leyla Guven warns of Turkey's increasing authoritarianism in letter to European leaders

PEOPLES Democratic Party (HDP) MP Leyla Guven warned of increasing authoritarianism in Turkey in a letter sent today to the heads of EU institutions as Ankara’s clampdown on democracy continues.

The deputy for Hakkari is also co-chair of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), an organisation whose dissolution by the Turkish state has been followed by scores of arrests over the past week.

Her letter, sent to European Parliament president David Sassoli and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, warned of “the destruction of the relationship between Turkey and Europe.

"An increasingly authoritarian political power in Turkey has criminalised and closed the DTK, which reflects the will of civil society. It does so with the aim of narrowing the political sphere,” Ms Guven said.

The DTK was established in 2007 as a pluralistic general assembly of 800 organisations from all layers of society, including trade unions, non-governmental organisations and political parties.

It was founded with the aim of finding a peaceful and democratic solution to Turkey’s so-called Kurdish question at a time when conflict was raging between state forces and the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

In 2012, then parliamentary speaker Cemil Cicek invited DTK representatives to put forward proposals for a new constitution.

In a six-page response, the DTK called for democratic autonomy, which would allow the Kurdish population a degree of self-government and the right to speak their own language and practise their own tradition and cultures.

But after peace talks were halted abruptly by the Turkish government in 2015, it moved against the DTK, which was branded “illegal,” and those who had participated in its commissions or structures were charged with acts of terror.

In raids in seven cities last weekend some 42 people were detained over their connections to the DTK, and 23 of them were jailed on Monday.

HDP co-chaIr Pervin Buldan warned that the actions against the DTK were part of an operation by the Turkish state to liquidate the democratic organisations of the Kurds.

But she asked: ”What do you plan to do with the Kurdish people? Will you eliminate them as well? Will you be able to lock millions away?”

“The people of Turkey will never give up their joint struggle for democracy and their stance in solidarity,” Ms Buldan insisted.

“You can break down doors by force, but you can never break the will of the people.”

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