Turkish authorities detain 2,906 DEM Party members in 2023

Pro-Kurdish DEM Party Legal and Human Rights Commission announced that Turkish authorities detained 2,906 people affiliated with the party, including children and many party executives, and arrested 319 of them in the first 11 months of 2023.

Duvar English

Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (DEM Party) announced that, 2,906 people affiliated with the party, including 60 provincial and district executives and 72 children, were detained in the first 11 months of 2023. Turkish courts arrested 319 people among them, including four children.

DEM Party Legal and Human Rights Commission Co-spokespersons Nuray Özdoğan and Öztürk Türkdoğan on Dec. 18 announced the report prepared on the attacks and rights violations against their party members since 2015.

Türkdoğan stated that since 2015, at least 22,818 party members have been detained in operations against their party and at least 4,334 people, including party co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, have been arrested.

DEM Party in 2023 was founded as the successor of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) for the 2023 Elections over the closure case that has been continuing against the latter in the Constitutional Court.

Between January 2015 and Dec. 10, 2023, Turkish authorities arrested 104 provincial co-chairs, 201 district co-chairs, and one town co-chair. During the same period, 24 former lawmakers and 30 Central Executive Board (MYK) members have been arrested as well.

While seven former deputies and 14 MYK members are still imprisoned, 15 deputies were deprived of their mandate.

Türkdoğan stated, "Those who constantly talk about the will of the people do not recognize it when it comes to the will of the Kurds and their allies. Some 93 mayors elected in 2014 Local Elections were arrested and trustees were appointed to 95 municipalities. As of Dec. 10, 2023, 27 co-mayors of the Democratic Regions Party (DBP) municipalities are still in prison.”

DBP is affiliated with the DEM Party tradition and have been particularly active in the local level. 

"In the local elections held in March 2019, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) launched its operation against the will of the people again, especially in Kurdistan. While 43 co-mayors were arrested and trustees were appointed to 48 municipalities, 17 of our co-mayors are still in prison," Türkdoğan added.

Between 2015 and 2023, a total of 336 physical attacks were recorded against the party. In these attacks, two party members lost their lives and 76 HDP members were injured. In addition, a total of 142 people lost their lives and nearly a thousand people were injured in bomb attacks against the party.

A prosecutor filed a case against the HDP in March 2021, seeking the party closure over alleged ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. The HDP denies such links. The Constitutional Court accepted the indictment against the HDP in June 2021.

Türkdoğan also added that after Feb.6 earthquakes, in which at least 50,000 people were killed, the authorities prevented the relief efforts of the party.

"This state cannot democratize and get rid oppressive policies without entering a new peace process on the Kurdish question. (The government) should respect the will of the Kurdish people and never resort to trustee practices again. Constant intervention (to party activities) through judicial pressure should be abandoned. Election laws should not be tampered with so much, Turkey needs a democratic election law and a law on political parties,” Türkdoğan underscored.

Co-spokesperson Nuray Özdoğan stated that in the case in which their former co-chairs have been also on trial, there is an attempt to rush a decision before the 2024 local elections. 

“It is not the court committee that is doing this, but the political power that uses the courts as a tool. However, the struggle of our party and the struggle of our people will not be interrupted in any way and will not stop,” she added.