Turkish government’s oppression against Kurds intensifies

Selahattin Demirtaş.

Acting under the directives of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has intensified its war and persecution against Kurds and popularly elected Kurdish political actors.

Turkish Parliament, which is under the heavy domination of the majority seats of the ruling AKP and its recent ally the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP, has stripped Figen Yüksekdağ, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) who was jailed on terror charges in November, of her parliamentary status on Tuesday.

In the same day, a court in eastern Turkey has handed down a prison sentence of five months to the HDP’s other Co-chairperson Selahattin Demirtaş on charges of insulting the Turkish nation, republic and state institutions. The prison sentence was given to Demirtaş by the Doğubeyazıt 2nd Penal Court of First Instance in the eastern province of Ağrı. It was not immediately clear on which occasion Demirtaş committed the insult crime.

On Monday, the HDP applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) for the continuing unlawful imprisonment of the party’s co-chairs Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ. The application filed to the ECtHR has underlined the failure of the Constitutional Court as an appeal body to carry out an investigation, so the top court’s inertia has necessitated the application to the ECtHR.

The HDP’s Co-chairs Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ were arrested in a police operation on Nov.4 along with seven other HDP deputies. The parliamentary status of Yüksekdağ was removed after Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals upheld a jail sentence handed down to her in 2013. Yüksekdağ was sentenced to 10 months for participating in the funeral ceremony of Yasemin Çiftçi, a member of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) – a terrorist group affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The Supreme Court of Appeals’ 16th Criminal Chamber approved the jail sentence for Yüksekdağ on Nov. 2, 2016.

Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli read out the Parliament decision to remove Yüksekdağ’s parliamentary membership during a session on Tuesday. When the conviction of a member of parliament is approved by the Supreme Court of Appeals, the deputy’s parliamentary status is revoked in line with Article 84 of the Turkish Constitution and without any vote in Parliament.


Meanwhile, pro-Kurdish HDP’s newly released deputy İdris Baluken was also arrested in Ankara on Tuesday after a Diyarbakır court issued an arrest warrant for him. Baluken, who is also HDP parliamentary group deputy chairman, was released from jail on Jan. 30 after spending nearly three months behind bars.

A case was launched against Baluken on charges of membership in an armed terror group, disrupting the unity and integrity of the state, disseminating propaganda for a terror organization and taking part in illegal demonstrations. He is facing a jail sentence of up to 15 years.


On the other hand, five days after he was arrested at Şırnak Airport, the whereabouts of the HDP deputy Ferhat Encü still remain a mystery, according to lawyers representing the deputy. Encü was last seen late on Friday while being dragged into an armored vehicle before his family’s eyes. Newly emerged video footage shows the moment the handcuffed deputy was forced into the vehicle by a group of armed Turkish soldiers.

Encü was first arrested in a police operation on Nov. 4, 2016 along with eight other party deputies HDP co-chairs. He was released from Kandıra Prison on last Wednesday. However, he was re-arrested on Friday after the Şırnak Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office reportedly objected to his release.

HDP İstanbul Provincial Administrator and Media Consultant Süleyman Başer was also arrested on the charge of “being a member of an [illegal] organization” on Monday. Başer’s attorney, Levent Pişkin, stated that his client, who was detained on February 13, was questioned regarding his attendance at legal protests.


AKP government’s persecution targeting Kurds has not only consist of the elected Kurdish politicians, also it has targeting ordinary Kurdish citizens. As a last example of oppression against Kurds, 6 students dancing to Kurdish music have been detained in Aydın on Monday. After the interrogation the Kurdish students were released in the same day.

Six students from the Aydın Anadolu İmam-Hatip High School were released on Monday following a brief detention for dancing to Kurdish music in class. 14-year-old Y.B. and five of his friends were detained after the school administration filed a complaint against the students for dancing to Kurdish music during class.

Their teacher copied the music to a memory card and handed it over to the school administration, which then filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office. The six students were briefly detained by police and referred to a court over charges of “terror propaganda.” The court released the students on probation.

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 hundreds of local Kurdish politicians have been arrested on terror charges. The number of jailed HDP deputies rose to 12 after Encü’s arrest. The systematic persecution targeting Kurds and elected Kurdish politicians have attracted widespread reactions from the region and Western countries. (The SCF with turkishminute.com & turkeypurge.com) Feb. 21, 2017

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