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Scores of high-profile figures from Turkey's Peoples’ Democratic Party arrested

TURKISH state oppression intensified today with scores of arrests targeting democratic opposition, in particular Kurds and high-profile figures from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

HDP MP for Hakkari Leyla Guven, who is also co-chair of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) appeared in court again today just weeks after she was stripped of her parliamentary status and released from prison.

While she avoided jail, it is understood that the Kurdish politician has four files against her with new charges set to be brought as the Turkish state continues to target women in a bid to keep them out of political life.

Operations escalated at the end of May with 18 people dragged into custody during police raids in the largely Kurdish city of Diyarbakir.

Most of those held were representatives of women’s organisations, with operations targeting mainly female Kurdish politicians and activists.

The HDP said that Diyarbakir is being singled out as a target of government oppression as one of the party’s strongholds and the political centre of the Kurdish region in Turkey.

Recent attacks have seen women subjected to torture and abuse, with Rojbin Cetin saying she was sexually assaulted after she was set upon and mauled by police dogs during a three-and-a-half-hour interrogation on Saturday.

At least 42 people have been detained in raids in seven cities over the past few days regarding their connections to the DTK. On Monday, 23 of those held were jailed.

HDP officials warned of a “political climate where any criticism of the government is equated with terrorism” with mass detentions becoming a routine way of intimidating democratic society.

The DTK was established in 2007 as a pluralistic general assembly involving representatives from broad layers of democratic society including women’s organisations, trade unions, civil society groups and political parties, including the Democratic Regions Party (DBP).

In 2012, Parliament invited the DTK take part in discussions and submit ideas and suggestions for a new Turkish constitution, reflecting the important role of the body in political life.

But after the collapse of peace talks between the government and jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party leader Abdullah Ocalan in 2015, the state moved against the DTK, branding it a terrorist organisation before shutting it down.

HDP warned of escalating state violence as the government uses “naked forces to maintain its rule.”

Along with the attacks on those associated with DTK, the state has moved against HDP jailing many of its elected officials and taking control of 51 out of the 65 councils won by the party in last year’s municipal elections.

“As we get closer to the inevitable and final political battle with President Erdogan and his allies, the HDP remains ever more committed to its relentless political struggle for a free, democratic and peaceful future,” a statement concluded.


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