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Turkey: Opposition party demands police release female activists immediately

THE female activists detained in Wednesday’s police raids should be released immediately, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) women’s assembly insisted in Ankara today after details of their inhumane treatment emerged.

Those taken into custody were being denied food and water, the HDP warned, and had been taken into the prison yard and photographed in an act of humiliation.

But despite the Turkish state pressure, Ankara provincial women’s assembly spokeswoman Deniz Akıl insisted: “We will not be silenced, we are not afraid and we will not obey.”

Speaking at a press conference in the capital alongside women from the trade union movement, she said lawyers had not been told what charges would be brought.

It is believed to be an attack on women’s involvement in Turkish political life. The HDP co-chair system, which guarantees sex equality at all levels of the party, has been equated with terrorism by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In September, a protest defending the system was broken up by police in Ankara just moments after it started and a number of women were detained.

At least nine were arrested and held in Wednesday’s raids in Ankara and Mersin, which followed the detention of 15 people last week in Van province in Turkey’s largely Kurdish south-east. 

Ms Akil said the state was criminalising those who demand peace and an end to war, but they would “continue to commit this crime by asking for peace.”

HDP spokeswoman and MP for Batman Ayse Acar Basaran warned that the women were being “terrorised” and denied access to lawyers.

She condemned the authorities for “illegally” photographing the women and denying food and water, even to those with health problems.

The HDP has come under increasing pressure since the municipal elections in March, which ended in a humiliating defeat for Mr Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party as it lost control of both Ankara and Istanbul.

Mr Erdogan hit back, removing elected mayors from the largely Kurdish municipalities of Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van and replacing them with government-appointed trustees.

Ms Basaran said that, despite the oppression, HDP would not be forced out of politics.

“We will not step back from politics or our claim to hope for society. The losers will be those who do not accept the will, existence, identity and history of the [Kurdish] people today. 

“They will take their place in the dustbin of history … We will continue to be here, to conduct politics.”

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