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TURKEY’S opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) released a shocking report this week detailing the scale of oppression it has faced, with more than 15,000 members detained since 2015.
The party’s Reports on Violations of Rights for 2019 showed that 1,674 HDP members and officials were detained during operations this year and 200 of them jailed.
The party released its findings to mark international Human Rights Week, with a statement warning: “Turkey is nearing 2020 as a country where human rights are disregarded.”
At least 15,530 people have been detained, of whom 6,000 have been jailed, since the HDP won its first seat in the Turkish parliament in 2015.
Operations against the HDP have intensified this year, with authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan angry at being humiliated in municipal elections.
His handpicked candidate in the controversially rerun Istanbul mayoral election, former prime minister Binali Yildirim, lost by more than 800,000 votes to opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu of the Kemalist Republican People’s Party (CHP).
Mr Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) also lost control of the capital Ankara and failed to win in Turkey’s third-largest city Izmir, a CHP stronghold.
The state responded by moving against the HDP, removing elected mayors in Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van provinces on August 19. They were replaced by government-appointed trustees.
Since then, the report states, 17 HDP co-mayors have been jailed as the government has taken control of more than 28 HDP-run municipalities.
Former party co-chairs Figen Yuksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas are being “held hostage” as political prisoners having been held in jail since the state detained HDP MPs in a series of raids in November 2016.
One of the heaviest sentences was handed down to HDP MP for Diyarbakir Idris Baluken, who received 16 years and eight months in prison on trumped-up terrorism charges.
The HDP was established in 2012, bringing together a broad coalition of Turkish and Kurdish left organisations, including the Peace and Democracy Party, Green-Left and the Socialist Party of the Oppressed.
It was born out of the People’s Democracy Congress, whose participants also included labour movement organisations such as the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey.
From its inception, the party attempted to build a bridge to overcome the Turkish-Kurdish divide.
It tested its electoral programme for the first time in the 2014 local elections and presidential election, when its candidate Mr Demirtas polled nearly 10 per cent of the national vote.
But it has faced increased pressure from the Turkish state, including the killing of supporters, as the government tries to silence opposition.
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