Swedish Left Party head Sjöstedt says Turkish police threatened him to arrest

Swedish Left Party President Jonas Sjöstedt observed the trial of HDP Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş in İstanbul.

The chairman of the Swedish Left Party and parliamentarian Jonas Sjöstedt has said Turkish police threatened him to arrest in Ankara where he attempted to monitor the trial of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) jailed co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş on Thursday.

Sjöstedt has said he was prevented from attending Demirtaş’s hearing as an observer, and police threatened him to arrest in case of he spoke to the media. “[Then] we had to leave,” Sjöstedt told Sweden’s leading Aftonbladet daily. “When we get there, it’s full of crowded police, a pair of water cannons and barbed wire. It was quite clear that they did not intend to let any of us listen to this trial. …When we started talking to the media, they said they would round up people,” said Sjöstedt.

An Ankara court ruled on Thursday to keep Demirtaş behind the bars. He has been under arrest along with other party lawmakers on terrorism charges since November 4, 2016.

“We feel we absolutely do not want to abandon them. But it is also clear that Turkey knows there is no reason for imprisonment and therefore, we are ruling out the trial. …They are a big left party who also works for Kurds’ rights, a democratically open party. They were the first target of Erdoğan when they began to restrict democracy in Turkey,” said Sjöstedt and added that “The only reason for the arrests has been that the HDP leaders made political statements about a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question and criticized Erdoğan.”

“…They shut out all critical reviews. Then you think of those who continue to be active here, they take these risks every day while we can go home to safe Sweden. But it’s only more important to back them up and support them in the future,” continued Sjöstedt.

“…As long as we have the opportunity, we will try to guard trial and visit people in prisons. I think that international pressure is crucial for the presence of any democratic opposition in Turkey. …Turkey is today the European Union’s border guard to keep away refugees. This makes them feel quite sure they can do as they like. Now you have to be clear to Turkey and put pressure on the economy. Erdoğan today uses this reliance on breaking the opposition. Then we have a responsibility to say,” Sjöstedt maintained.

Turkish government has stepped up political pressure on Kurdish minority in recent years, seizing Kurdish-run municipalities and arresting their mayors. Dozens of trustees have been appointed by Turkish Interior Ministry to mostly pro-Kurdish municipalities in Turkey’s Southeast, replacing the elected mayors and municipal council members.

Earlier this week, a motion was filed against 19 more HDP deputies for disseminating propaganda on behalf of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Demirtaş and nine other HDP lawmakers were arrested on Nov. 4, 2016 on the grounds that they failed to show up to give their testimony to prosecutors after they were accused of terror charges based on alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The Turkish government has arrested at least 84 co-mayors from the pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP) as sister party of pro-Kurdish Peoples’s Democratic Party (HDP) while seizing the administration of at least 54 municipalities across southern Turkey.

The pro-Kurdish DBP won 103 municipalities in local elections held on March 30, 2014, with some repeated on June 1, 2014. However, with Turkey stepping up political pressure on Kurdish politicians in recent months, the government has appointed trustees to the management of 54 municipalities and arrested a total of 84 co-mayors and 13 deputies from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). (SCF with turkeypurge.com)

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