Duvar English

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)’s Democracy March arrived in Istanbul on June 18, despite the government’s attempts to halt its progress.

A day later on June 19, the HDP convoy visited the city’s Sultanbeyli district on the Asian side. On the way, it stopped at the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, also known as the Second Bosporus Bridge, and flied purple balloons for jailed women politicians.

While addressing people in Sultanbeyli, HDP co-chair Pervin Buldan said that the government’s “fascist acts” will not stop the party from continuing its march.

“You will not be able to stop the HDP’s march against coup in any way, under no circumstances. We are the assurance of peace, democracy and freedoms in this country. We are a party which defends democracy and peace,” Buldan was quoted as saying by Mezopotamya news agency.

The HDP on June 15 launched its two-track Democracy March to the capital Ankara — one from the northwestern province of Edirne and the other from the southeastern province of Hakkari. The march is a protest of the expulsion of two HDP deputies and one main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker from the parliament.

Governors of several provinces, the majority of which are located on the route of the march, since then have announced that they banned all demonstrations, citing the fight against the novel coronavirus as the reason why this decision was taken. Some of them have even temporarily banned entrances to their provinces. Also, people attempting to join the march faced police resistance and were detained in various provinces. 

In the face of coronavirus and demonstration bans in provinces on route to Ankara, HDP members are not undertaking the march on foot but are rather in a convoy of cars. They are visiting the party’s offices as well as NGOs on route to the capital.

Despite the obstacles, Buldan said that they will share the march’s declaration in Ankara a day later on June 20, which is when the protest will come to an end.

Buldan said that after Istanbul’s Sultanbeyli district, the HDP convoy’s next stop will be Kandıra Prison in the western province of Kocaeli, where several officials of the party — including deputies, co-mayors and members — are imprisoned.

The HDP co-chair said that they will show their support with the imprisoned party officials with their visit. “We know that our deputies and co-chairs are kept in jail in an unlawful way. Our march which we initiated in the face these unlawfulnesses will reach its target. Our march will continue until our friends are free,” Buldan said.

“We are finishing our Democracy March tomorrow in Ankara. We will finish our march at a specific place, with a declaration in Ankara. But this does not mean this march has come to end. We will sustain this march with various other activities. This is a long way. There is peace, democracy and justice at the end of this road.”