Visitor ban imposed on HDP meeting after Western diplomats’ attendance

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A ban on visitors at parliamentary group meetings of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was imposed this week after last week’s attendance of several European diplomats and representatives from nongovernmental organizations at the weekly gathering, resulting in the party spokesperson speaking to a mainly empty room in Parliament on Tuesday.

Following the arrest of 10 deputies from the party including its co-chairs, in reaction to the crackdown of the Kurdish opposition many diplomats from foreign missions in Turkey such as the Belgian, Austrian and Luxembourger ambassadors, the Austrian deputy chief of mission, the chief clerk at the Greek embassy and representatives from the German, Spanish and Finnish embassies as well as one representative from the Delegation of the European Union to Turkey were in attendance during the party’s parliamentary group meeting, which convenes every Tuesday.

This Tuesday, party spokesperson Ayhan Bilgen said that such a ban on visitors is a shame for Parliament, adding that because of the support of foreign diplomatic missions, this week no visitors were allowed into the HDP meeting. He noted that regular citizens were prohibited from observing the party meeting, which is normally allowed for interested party supporters for each political party.

Turkish courts on Nov. 4 arrested HDP deputies including the party’s Co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, who were detained following police raids on their homes. The HDP deputies were arrested after they refused to testify about alleged crimes linked to “terrorist propaganda.”

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