Turkish police on January 9 fired tear gas to break up a protest by a small group of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) supporters and deputies in Ankara.
Protestors including deputies Filiz Kerestecioğlu and Abdullah Koç gathered in front of the party office to read a press statement condemning the detention of several party members and executives earlier in the day. However, the police, who had tightened security prior to event, announced that they would not be allowed to read the press statement by order of the governor’s office. When the group insisted on reading it anyway, police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Stunned by the tear gas, Kerestecioğlu reacted to the police intervention and said: “Look! They won’t even allow us to talk about our own party members. One does not have to be an AKP [ruling Justice and Development Party] supporter in this country. We are not scared, and we will not give in.”
Kerestecioğlu later addressed parliament and criticized the deputies of other parties who were reluctant to officially condemn the incident.
Koç, another deputy who was exposed to the tear gas, said he denounced the people who prevented them from exercising their right to freedom of speech and assembly.
Fourteen people including members and executives of the HDP Ankara branch were detained on Wednesday as part of ongoing terrorist operations against party members. According to an HDP press release, Ali Özkan, Dilbaz Temel, Nurettin Kemertaş, Sihan Kaya, Harun Çakmak, Feride Yardımcı, Eyüp Emektar, İlhan Karaman, Vessel Yoğurtçu, Banu Erdoğan, Devrim Kahraman, Güler Eleven, Hatice Beydilli and Erkan Polat are currently in custody.
Kaya is the mother of 10-month-old premature twins, the Mezopotamya news agency reported.