Kurdish issue-focused Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) began its Democracy March on June 15 under heavy police presence and detentions.
The party began its march from the western province of Edirne and the southeastern province of Hakkari, which is expected to end in the capital Ankara on June 20.
The march was kicked off after two HDP deputies and one main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) lawmaker were stripped of their parliamentary statuses.
HDP deputies Leyla Güven and Musa Farisoğulları and CHP lawmaker Enis Berberoğlu were arrested after losing their statuses. Berberoğlu was released as part of the coronavirus (COVID-19) measures, while Güven was released to be sentenced to house arrest.
At least 10 people were detained in Istanbul's Silivri when police dispersed HDP members heading to Edirne for the march. Tear gas and rubber bullets were also used.
HDP co-chair Pervin Buldan and party lawmakers made a statement to the press following police intervention, saying that the HDP won't stop marching.
Buldan: Biz milyonlarız engelleyemezsiniz— Zeynep Kuray (@zeynokuray) June 15, 2020
HDP tüm saldırı ve engellemelere rağmen Silivri’deki "Demokrasi Yürüyüşü”ne start verdi. Vekillerin darp edildiği ve 6 kişinin gözaltına aldığı yürüyüşte açıklama yapan HDP Eş Genel Başkanı Pervin Buldan, “ Biz milyonlarız ” dedi. pic.twitter.com/Bu5G6Vf6rT
"Via banning entries and exits to plenty of cities, you adopted anti-democratic and unconstitutional measures. These measures won't prevent the HDP from meeting the public," Buldan said.
"This march will continue until peace, freedoms and democracy come to this country," she added.
The group then headed to Edirne, where former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş is imprisoned.
HDP'nin Silivri'den start vereceği "Darbeye karşı demokrasi yürüyüşü" öncesi polis kitleye saldırdı. HDP milletvekillerine kimlik soran polisler,HDP Eş Genel Başkanı Pervin Buldan'ın gelişini kahvede bekleyen HDP'li siyasetçilerine saldırdı; 6 kişi darp edilerek gözaltına alındı pic.twitter.com/dCuz0E1WJr— Zeynep Kuray (@zeynokuray) June 15, 2020
In Hakkari, heavy police presence was seen all over the province, with riot police waiting in front of official buildings.
HDP co-chair Mithat Sancar spoke to the press before the march began, saying that "the march is for democracy against coups."
"Not recognizing the law and the constitution is being putschists. We are here for justice and freedoms. We're marching for Güven, Farisoğulları and Berberoğlu. We're marching for Selahattin Demirtaş and [jailed former HDP co-chair] Figen Yüksekdağ. We're marching for Osman Kavala and the journalists held behind bars unlawfully," Sancar said.
"We're marching to bring justice to this country and a democratic solution to the Kurdish issue," he added.
The party then began its march, but was met with police barricades. An argument erupted between the party members and police, which was followed by the HDP continuing its march towards the eastern province of Van.Man arrested for sexually harassing Başak Demirtaş on social media amid politicians' condemnations
In Van, police encircled the party's provincial building and forbade entrances and exits to it.
A day earlier, Demirtaş voiced support to the march, saying that it's a call for the 82 million people in Turkey to unite.
"No one should make this event a tool for polarization and tensions," Demirtaş said.
2- Zorlu ve sıkıntılı bir süreçteyiz. Ancak tüm zorlukları, 82 milyon el ele vererek aşabileceğimizi de biliyorum. İşte HDP’nin bu etkinliği, 82 milyon olarak el ele verme çağrısıdır. Bu açıdan, hiç kimse bu etkinliği kutuplaştırma ve gerginlik malzemesi yapmamalıdır.— Selahattin Demirtaş (@hdpdemirtas) June 14, 2020
CHP Group Deputy Chair Özgür Özel, meanwhile, slammed police intervention into the march.
"This is the limitation of a constitutional right. What's happening increases the perception of a police state and harms the principles of democracy and law," Özel said.
HDP’nin yürüyüşünün engellenmesi ve yapılan müdahale; anayasal bir hakkın kısıtlanmasıdır.— Özgür Özel (@eczozgurozel) June 15, 2020
Bu yaşananlar polis devleti algısını güçlendirmekte, demokrasiyi ve hukuk devleti ilkelerini zedelemektedir. https://t.co/KYxd9ng9xh