Turkey's crackdown on the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) has intensified, as the police early on March 19 detained 20 people, including HDP executives, in house raids in Istanbul and Ankara.
Among the 10 detained in Istanbul were HDP Beşiktaş and Kağıthane district co-chairs.
In Ankara, the police also detained Öztürk Türkdoğan, the co-chairman of Human Rights Association (İHD).
The İHD said on Twitter its lawyers were seeking information about his case.
Eş Genel Başkanımız Öztürk Türkdoğan bu sabah gözaltına alındı. Gerekçesi hakkında henüz bilgimizin olmadığı bu operaayon insan hakları savunucularına yönelik baskının son ve açık bir örneğidir.— İHD Genel Merkezi (@ihd_genelmerkez) March 19, 2021
Süreç hakkında kamuoyunu bilgilendirmeye devam edeceğiz. pic.twitter.com/M27cQqJAOa
Nacho Sánchez Amor, European Parliament Rapporteur on Turkey, commented on Türkdoğan's detention, saying Ankara's actions contradict its promised reforms as part of the recently unveiled Human Rights Action Plan.
"Day by day, it seems clearer that Turkey's government has indeed an action plan for human rights, just not to protect them," Amor said in an ironic tweet.
#ÖztürkTürkdoğan, co-chair of the renowned Human Rights Association @ihd_genelmerkez, has been arrested in a home raid this morning... Reasons unknown yet.— Nacho Sánchez Amor (@NachoSAmor) March 19, 2021
Day by day, it seems clearer that #Turkey's Gov has indeed an #ActionPlan for #HumanRights, maybe just not to protect them.
The Turkish government unveiled a Human Rights Action Plan this month, saying it would strengthen the right to a fair trial and the right of freedom of expression. Critics say the plan fails to tackle an erosion of human rights in the country, however.
Türkdoğan had in February criticized Ankara for ordering a military operation into northern Iraq's Gara region which led to the execution of 13 Turks, including military and police personnel, at the hands of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Türkdoğan had said that he holds both the Turkish military and the PKK responsible for the incident as Ankara knew about the risks of such an operation in advance.
Afterwards Interior Minister Sülyeman Soylu targeted İHD in a speech, referring to it as a “cursed association.”
There were arrest warrants for 15 people in Istanbul in total and for 12 people in Ankara.
A Turkish prosecutor filed a case with the Constitutional Court on March 17 demanding a ban on the HDP, the culmination of a years-long crackdown against the third largest party in parliament. The HDP called it a "political coup".
The United States and Europe criticised the move to open the court case, saying it undermined democracy.