ali yildirim

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Today, the Turkish police took eleven HDP, (Peoples’ Democracy Party) parliamentarians, including the co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, into custody in after-midnight raids.The MPs’ houses and the party’s headquarters were raided, doors were broken and the parliamentarians were forcefully detained.

HDP is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and progressive umbrella party representing over six million voters across Turkey, including Kurds, Armenians, Alevis, Ezidis, leftists, feminists and LGBTIQ.

In June 2015 elections, HDP won a historic success and became the third biggest party in the Turkish parliament. Failing to win enough votes to form a majority government, the ruling AKP, (Justice and Development Party) abandoned the Kurdish peace process and launched a comprehensive crackdown against the opposition, especially the Kurdish-led HDP. Since then, the Turkish government’s authoritarianism has escalated. The opposition has been criminalized; a massive military campaign was launched in the Kurdish cities that HDP had landslide victories in the June 2015 elections; towns were razed to ground by the Turkish security forces, hundreds of thousands of civilians were forcibly displaced and thousands were killed.

In the past several months, the government has been using the coup attempt on July 15th as an opportunity to consolidate its rule by eliminating every single oppositional voice in the country, especially the HDP, which halted the authoritarian project of a presidential system both in the June and November elections in 2015 by preventing his AKP to win sufficient number of parliamentary seats to make the necessary constitutional changes.

About 30 democratically elected Kurdish mayors are in prison now and about 70 of them have been dismissed by the central government. The freedom of expression has been almost entirely undermined. With government decrees with the power of law, over 170 media outlets have been banned. More than 130 journalists are in prison, also including some world-renowned authors and intellectuals.

Most recently, two Kurdish news agencies and several Kurdish dailies were closed and the chief-editor, columnists and journalists of the pro-Republican People Party (CHP) daily Cumhuriyet were detained. Tens of thousands of teachers and academics have been dismissed or suspended.

A significant number of these are either Kurdish or in solidarity with the Kurds and they have absolutely nothing to do with the coup. And as you know, many academics, including myself, are under criminal investigation for signing a peace petition.

Friends from around the globe, these are dark days indeed, days when we most need international solidarity.