Politicians, activists protest against mass crackdown in Diyarbakır

Green Left Party and HDP politicians as well as activists on April 28 gathered in front of the Diyarbakır Courthouse and protested the government’s pre-election crackdown that saw the detention of several Kurdish journalists, lawyers and political party officials earlier this week.

Ardıl Batmaz / Gazete Duvar 

Several politicians and representatives of NGOs on April 28 staged a protest in the southeastern Diyarbakır province and slammed the mass operation against Kurdish lawyers and activists conducted earlier this week.

The protest in front of the Diyarbakır Courthouse saw the participation of Green Left Party parliamentarian candidates, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) politicians, and members of several NGOs such as Peace Mothers and Association of Lawyers for Freedom.

On April 25, some 128 Kurdish journalists, politicians, lawyers and activists were detained, with accusations of “links to terrorism.” The operations were centered in Diyarbakır but took place in a total of 21 provinces. Twenty-nine of the detainees were arrested by a formal court order, while 30 were released under judicial control measures and five were released following their testimonies at the prosecutor’s office.

The protest in Diyarbakır deemed the operation “unlawful” and a “political massacre,” vowing to “reestablish justice despite law massacred for four days.”

HDP Diyarbakır provincial co-chair Gülistan Atasoy held a speech here, calling for the immediate release of the detainees. “Some people pressed the panic button (referring to the government) as May 14 elections near; they think that by initiating an operation against Kurds, as always, they will be able to extend their rulership. You have come to the end of the road,” she said.

“On May 14, the scream of democracy, peace, justice and freedom will be heard everywhere, against fascism. This rulership will go to the place it deserves with our will.”

After Atasoy, Green Left Party parliamentarian candidate Mehmet Emin Aktar took the stage and said that the rulership was targeting Kurds as the elections near.

Aktar said that it was not the other political parties that the Green Left Party was competing against, but state institutions due to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deploying every possible means to win the elections.

He said that the Diyarbakır-centered operation aims to “create perception and frighten society.” “After the operations four days ago, the number of people who participate in our works has folded. We hereby make a call: We have nothing to be ashamed about, to run away from. We are coming to maintain freedom and democracy. This nation will give you the necessary answer on May 14. We are not scared and will not give up. Whatever you do, even if you lock us all up, we will shatter this captivity.”

The HDP is entering the elections under the Green Left Party, due to the risk of being closed prior to the May 14 elections.

The HDP is fiercely opposed to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling AKP after an increased crackdown in recent years in which thousands of its members, lawmakers and mayors have been jailed or stripped of positions over alleged Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) ties.

(English version by Didem Atakan)