HRW: Detention of HDP, DBP officials damages Turkey’s democracy

HRW: Detention of HDP, DBP officials damages Turkey’s democracy
2 months ago

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SULAIMANI – Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the detention of Kurdish politicians and officials by the Turkish government damages democracy in the country.

HRW released a report on Monday (March 20) saying the crackdown on democratically elected officials interferes with the rights of the people who voted for them, while also violating their rights to political association and participation.

“It’s deeply damaging to Turkey’s democracy that the government is locking up the leaders and MPs of an opposition party that received five million votes in the last election,” Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch, Hugh Williamson said.

“The fact that the curbs come during a vital national debate about the country’s future is doubly disturbing,” Williamson added.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag as well as 11 of its lawmakers are in jail facing terrorism charges, HRW said.

The Turkish government has also taken control of 82 municipalities won by the Democratic Regions Party (DBP), the HRW added. Ankara has suspended their democratically elected co-mayors under suspicion of terrorism offenses, with 90 of them jailed pending trial.

“The government’s crackdown on pro-Kurdish parties is robbing millions of voters of their parliamentary representatives, and in a vast swathe of the eastern and southeastern parts of the country it is robbing voters of their local representatives as well,” Williamson said.

Human Rights Watch said thousands of other members of both the HDP and DBP had been arrested.

The HDP told HRW that 5,471 of its officials had been detained since the July 2016 attempted coup in the country. The DBP also informed Human Rights Watch that 3,457 members of the party had been placed in pretrial detention since 2015.

HDP co-leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag were jailed pending trial on November 4 after refusing to give testimony in a probe linked to "terrorist propaganda".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses the opposition party, the HDP – which is the third-biggest grouping in parliament – of links with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). HDP denies the accusations.

The PKK, which took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984 and is fighting for Kurdish autonomy, is deemed a terrorist organization by the United States and European Union, as well as by Turkey.