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TURKEY’S Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) vowed not to bow before government persecution after its MPs were attacked by police during a peaceful protest today against the jailing of three opposition parliamentarians on Thursday night.
The group was set upon by security forces as they made their way from the parliament building to a park in the capital, Ankara, where demonstrators had gathered to express opposition to a “political coup.”
But they found their path blocked by scores of heavily armed police officers who violently attacked the HDP MPs, ripping the jacket from Ridvan Turan and smashing the spectacles of Kemal Bulbul.
The MPs gave a statement to the press, with Istanbul MP Saruhan Oluc saying: This is a government of war….As the HDP, we will not kneel before the persecution of this government.”
The protests took place after police swooped to arrest the HDP’s Leyla Guven and Musa Farisogullari and Republican People’s Party (CHP) MP Enis Berberoglu hours after parliament had stripped them of their status as MPs and lifted their immunity from prosecution.
While the Kemalist CHP did not mobilise for yesterday’s demonstration, the HDP called on supporters to join it in a peaceful march, uniting under the slogan “This is a coup.”
The arrests came amid speculation that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to call a snap general election, just two years after the last poll was marred by allegations of fraud and corruption.
Turkish forces have escalated hostilities against the HDP in recent weeks, with scores of arrests and attacks on party officials.
More than 15,000 HDP members and activists have been detained since 2015 and 6,000 had received jail sentences, according to the party.
At least 200 elected officials and seven former HDP MPs are behind bars, including former party co-chairs Figen Yuksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas.
Some 45 of 65 HDP-run municipalities have had their mayors removed on trumped-up terrorism charges since the last local elections in March 2019.
A further six were not allowed to take office despite being elected, bringing the total to 51. According to the HDP, at least 21 of the mayors remain incarcerated.
Sinn Fein, which has led international solidarity efforts, expressed full support for the HDP, demanding an end to political repression in Turkey and the release of all political prisoners.
MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew said the events are “yet another reminder of President Erdogan’s complete and total contempt for political opposition and democratic norms.
“The international community must bring pressure on the Turkish government to respect the democratic wishes of the people,” she added.
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