Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy and the party’s spokesperson Ayhan Bilgen, who was detained at Ankara Esenboğa Airport on Sunday, has been detained again on Monday. HDP deputy Lezgin Botan, who was also detained on Monday, has been another victim of an ongoing crackdown on the Kurdish political movement in Turkey.
HDP spokesperson Bilgen was detained following an arrest warrant issued by Diyarbakır Prosecutor for Bilgen and another HDP deputy Meral Danış Beştaş who was also detained and then released after she gave her testimony on Saturday. Besides of Beştaş, two other HDP deputies Hüda Kaya and Altan Tan who were also detained by police were released on Saturday.
On the other hand, HDP deputy Lezgin Botan was detained again on Monday. Botan had been detained and released on Jan. 27 along with fellow deputy Adem Geveri due to the deputies’ absence from hearings in a trial in which they are accused of membership in a terrorist organization and terrorist propaganda. The two Kurdish deputies are also banned from travelling abroad.
Turkish government has arrested 11 pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputies, including the party’s co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, 1,473 members of HDP and pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP) and also has seized the administration of 63 municipalities since failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. After a Diyarbakır court has released HDP deputy İdris Baluken on Monday, the number of HDP deputies in prison has reduced to ten.
Pro-Kurdish HDP and DBP won 103 municipalities in local elections which were held on 30 March 2014. However, with Turkey has stepped up political pressure on Kurdish politicians in recent months, the gov’t appointed trustees to the management of 63 municipalities, arrested a total of 74 Kurdish co-mayors.
Among the arrested party members, there are 132 local chairs of the party and 757 board members. Moreover, the number of party members who have been detained by police has reached to 4.966.
The Turkish government presents the growing number of arrests of Kurdish politicians at the national and local levels as part of the fight against terrorism. However, HDP assesses the detentions and arrests as “political”.
Defining the recent detentions of three deputies as “lawlessnes”, HDP said in a statement on Sunday that “The political responsibility of the decisions of these detentions and arrests is belong to the government. HDP has said that the recent arrests and detentions are part of referendum campaign that people will vote on the constitutional changes on executive presidency for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
HDP stated that “The process is not legal, but political. Deputies’ immunity has been abolished by breaching the Constitution and international democratic conventions… Through taking deputies hostage, arresting and detaining them you cannot break or change our political will. With posing threats and blackmails you cannot prevent us to campaign for “No” in referendum.”
Turkey has stepped up its crackdown on Kurdish politicians in recent months. Trustees have been appointed to dozens of municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast, while Turkish courts earlier in late 2016 arrested 11 HDP deputies, including the party’s Co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ.