Is Turkey against Kurds

New wave of repression against Kurds in Turkey

After months in which the Kurdish issue had not played a role in Turkish politics, a new wave of arrests against functionaries, activists and supporters of the Kurdish-left Peoples' Party (HDP) has now been initiated. After the General Prosecutor's Office in Ankara on Friday last week started with arrest warrants against 82 members of the HDP, two more raids took place on Wednesday and Thursday of this week in predominantly Kurdish cities in eastern Turkey.

The city of Kars, in the very north-east of the country on the border with Georgia, became the focus of the security forces. Both Vice Mayors of the HDP, Ayhan Bilge and Şevîn Alaca, have meanwhile been arrested.

On Thursday, special forces from the Interior Ministry also searched the city hall. The allegations are always the same: supporting the PKK, which is classified as a terrorist organization, with money or infrastructure from the resources of the city administration.

Since the local elections in March 2019, in which the HDP won 65 cities and municipalities in the east of the country, 56 HDP mayors have now been removed from office by the Ministry of the Interior on the pretext that they support the PKK and have been removed from office by state administrators from Ankara been replaced. This is now also happening in Kars.

Arrested and tortured

In addition, an incident that has not happened for a long time is shaking the country's Kurdish community: a few weeks ago two men were arrested in a village near Van, and their relatives were unable to find out anything about their whereabouts for a long time. Then both reappeared, seriously injured. According to a lawyer from Van, they were allegedly tortured and then thrown from a helicopter. One of them, Servet Turgut, died in hospital on Wednesday. Because the security authorities refuse to provide any information, the opposition daily Cumhuriyet ran the headline on Thursday: "Who killed Servet Turgut?"

The opposition parties suspect that the current repression campaign is centrally controlled from Ankara and has another motive in addition to the weakening of the HDP on site: the opposition alliance of the Republican People's Party (CHP), the relatively new right-wing good, which was so successful in the local elections last year Party (Iyi Parti) and the left-wing Kurdish HDP should be smashed. Because despite the ongoing military adventures of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, his popularity ratings continue to decline. According to most surveys, his people's alliance with the radical right-wing MHP as a partner against the National Alliance of CHP and Iyi Parti would lose, at least as long as CHP / Iyi Parti are supported by the HDP.

Appeals from prison

Only recently, the still most popular HDP politician Selahattin Demirtaş from prison once again called on his party to always support the opponent of the AKP Erdoğan in votes, even if he or she comes from the right-wing Iyi Party.

According to media reports, the AKP is currently planning to request the lifting of the immunity of the current HDP chairman Pervin Buldan and other leading HDP politicians in the recently reopened parliament. Should the CHP and especially the Iyi Parti, whose votes would be necessary for the lifting of immunity, oppose this, they should be denounced as "supporters of terrorism".

While this is unlikely to have any effect on the CHP, the right-wing Iyi Parti could actually get into major difficulties with its supporters. However, the leader of the Iyi Parti, Meral Akşener, has categorically rejected Erdoğan's advances to join the ruling coalition. Akşener wants to stick to the tactical alliance with the HDP because that is the only chance to defeat Erdoğan in the upcoming elections. (Jürgen Gottschlich from Istanbul, October 1st, 2020)