Turkish police detained 10 members and executives from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), including the party’s provincial and district co-chairs, in simultaneous raids on their houses in İstanbul early Thursday morning, local media reported on Thursday, citing a party official.
The development was announced on social media by HDP İstanbul provincial chairman Ferhat Encü, who described the operation as a “political massacre” and said the authorities are trying to “dissolve the HDP, which cannot be dealt with politically, through the judiciary.”
İstanbul’da gözlerimizi yine siyasi kırım operasyonlarıyla açtık. Aralarında il ve ilçe yöneticilerimizin olduğu birçok arkadaşımız bu sabah yapılan ev baskınlarıyla gözaltına alındı. Siyaseten baş edilmeyen HDP yargı marifeti ile tasfiye edilmeye çalışılmaktadır.
— Ferhat Encu (@FerhatEncu) June 16, 2022
Among those detained on Thursday are HDP Provincial Organization Co-Spokesperson Besra İşsever, HDP Üsküdar District Co-Chair Aysel Özbey and journalist Saliha Aras in addition to Erkan Tarım, Mümin Odabaş, Harun Bağatur, Enes Özdaş and Ercan Özer, according to a report by the Mezopotamya news agency.
The Demirören news agency (DHA) also said the simultaneous police raids that took place in Arnavutköy, Avcılar, Gaziosmanpaşa, Kartal, Kağıthane, Maltepe, Silivri, Sultanbeyli, Ümraniye and Üsküdar were part of an operation targeting people who had gathered in Kadıköy to participate in a rally to be held in Bursa on June 12.
The rally was against the “isolation” imposed on Abdullah Öcalan, jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), DHA said.
The “isolation” of Öcalan, who has been jailed in a high-security prison on İmralı Island in the Sea of Marmara since 1999, refers to his inability to speak with his lawyers for years.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), together with its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), have long portrayed the HDP as the political front of the outlawed PKK, which is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the EU and the US, and has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
The party denies links to the PKK and says it is working to achieve a peaceful solution to Turkey’s Kurdish issue and is only coming under attack because of its strong opposition to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s 19-year rule.
The political and legal assault on the HDP, which intensified after a truce between Kurdish militants and the AKP government broke down in 2015, grew even stronger after Erdoğan survived a coup attempt in July 2016 that was followed by a sweeping political crackdown.
The party currently faces a closure case on charges of “attempting to destroy the indivisibility between the state and the people.”
Hundreds of HDP politicians, including the party’s former co-chairs, are behind bars on terrorism charges, while most of the 65 HDP mayors elected in the predominantly Kurdish Southeast in 2019 have been replaced by government-appointed trustees.