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Turkish communist faces trial over anti-war remarks

TURKISH communists have called for solidarity from the labour and democracy movement in the run-up to next month’s trial of opposition politician Selma Gurkan who faces court after criticising Turkey’s war on Afrin.

Labour Party of Turkey (EMEP) general secretary Ms Gurkan will appear before the Istanbul 26th Heavy Penal Court on October 9 after she spoke out against Operation Olive Branch, the government’s illegal war and occupation of Afrin in northern Syria in a press statement.

She was charged after comments made in February on the first day of the trial of EMEP members Neslihan Karyemez and Bilal Karaman who were arrested for distributing anti-war leaflets in Istanbul.

Ms Gurkan accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of using the Afrin military invasion to “secure the power of the AKP government and to secure the presidency.”

She said the trial of the pair showed that “everyone who opposes the ruling of the government has become the target of the government" with every criticism of political power punished and political opponents arrested and accused of “terrorism.”

President Erdogan tried to create a false sense of national unity around Turkey’s war on Afrin, which was also backed by the country’s main opposition People’s Republican Party (CHP).

Turkish football clubs were among those made to pledge allegiance to the war with players carrying banners supporting the country’s army onto the pitches before matches.

At least 800 people have been detained for social media posts opposing Turkey’s military intervention on the grounds of “spreading terrorist propaganda.”

Doctors from the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) were arrested and branded “filth” in January by Mr Erdogan after they warned that the invasion of Afrin could turn into a humanitarian tragedy.

In a statement EMEP remained defiant and said: “Our party has always been with the labourers and the workers. Where there is resistance, action, struggle, we are always there first.”

It accused the pro-government Daily Sabah newspaper of attacking the party by running a headline stating that the general secretary faces trial on terrorism charges, despite having never previously run a news article about EMEP.

EMEP warned that the case against Ms Gurkan was being brought to crush human rights, silence dissenting opinions, suppress opposition and for the government to escape accountability for its actions.

The party called all democratic forces to join them at Istanbul’s Caglayan Justice Palace on October 9 at 9.30am.

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