Duvar English

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has released a report over the government’s “hostile” implementations against their party as well as Kurdish people over the COVID-19 period.

According to the report titled “Hostility against Kurds,” during the March 11 – June 25 period, 84 people were exposed to “torture and ill treament;” prosecutors prepared 84 proposals to lift HDP deputies’ immunity; police detained 444 people in opposition to the government; courts arrested 93 of these people; and the government appointed trustees to 14 municipalities run by the HDP.

The report was released at the HDP headquarters in the capital Ankara by deputies Ümit Dede and Filiz Kerestecioğlu, Mezopotamya news agency reported on July 15.

‘Gov’t saw COVID-19 period as an opportunity to increase its authoritarianism’

Dede said during the press meeting that during the coronavirus period, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government targeted the opposition and critics, instead of choosing to fight the virus.

“The ruling AKP, which used the pandemic as an opportunity to increase its control over society, deepened the polarization and discrimination. It cited the coronavirus period as a reason of rights violations and random implementations. The priority target of the rulership has become the opposition and Kurds, as has been the case over several years,” Dede said.

“In a period that public health should have been prioritized, trustees have been appointed, detentions happened and unjust arrets happened.”

The HDP’s report said that neighborhood watchmen (“bekçi” in Turkish) and police officers used the curfews implemented during the COVID-19 period as an excuse to impose violence on citizens. “In many cities, police officers, neighborhood watchmen and even guards of district governors insulted citizens who went outside to buy bread or throw away their litter or were simply sitting in their houses’ gardens; made them lie on the ground and handcuffed them, or pulled a gun on them,” the report said.

“The rulership, which targets the opposition particularly the HDP, has unlawfully detained a total of 444 women rights activists, journalists, health workers protesting bad working conditions and people who does not think like itself. Some 93 of these detained people were arrested and sent to prison,” the report read.

Prisons also saw several cases of “rights violations,” according to the report. The AKP’s recent legislation freeing thousands of prisoners amid the virus outbreak has discriminated Kurdish politicians as they stand charges over “terrorism” and the legislation excludes such political prisoners, the report said.

“Taking advantage of the pandemic, the AKP and [its Nationalist Movement Party ally] MHP have legalized a special amnesty that covers their own advocates. [But] thousands of others prisoners, especially political prisoners, have been left to their death in prisons,” it said.

The report likened the AKP government’s implementations during the COVID-19 period to those of 1990s, during which the government staged a heavily discriminatory policy towards the Kurds as a whole.

“During this period, [the government’s] war policies have speeded up. The curfews imposed in areas accommodating Kurds, declaration of some of the areas as military security places, inscriptions of ‘How happy is the one who says I’m a Turk’ [in these areas], destroyed forests, cattle killed by helicopters, …., raiding of houses and torturing people while telling them ‘You will show us where terrorists are’ have all shown us that the policies implemented in the 1990s have been repeated by the government,” it said.

The AKP government also legitimized its bans on marches and demonstrations by referring to the COVID-19, the report said.

AKP, its ally MHP build their alliance on ‘hostility against Kurds’

After releasing the report, HDP MP Kerestecioğlu also addressed reporters saying that the AKP and MHP have built their alliance on the “hostility towards Kurds.”

“The rulership is keeping its alliance with the MHP, which it formed after the July 15, 2016 [failed coup attempt], through hostility towards Kurds. Prior to the July 15, 2016, the AKP had easily come to a mutual understanding with the Gülen movement regarding the issue of Kurds and the government pressure against the opponents, and now it is also getting along with its current partner regarding this issue the best again,” Kerestecioğlu said.