At least 22 people have been detained in midnight raids against offices of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK) and the Migration Watch Association (GÖÇİZDER), Mezopotamya Agency reported on Friday.
There are arrest warrants out for at least 42 people in the northwestern Tekirdağ based investigation that spans a total of 11 provinces, it said.
Riot police units broke down the doors of the HDK offices in Istanbul’s central Beyoğlu district and confiscated laptops and several books as evidence.
Migration Watch offices in Istanbul’s Şirinevler suburb and homes of the association’s executives were also raided at dawn. There were 28 warrants against association members in five provinces, and 22 of them have already been detained.
Detainees in the two investigations are almost all members of the HDP, and among them are headquarters official Abdurrahman Öztürk, caucus member Kenan Yıldız, provincial co-chairs Yakup Aslan, Melahat Çelik and Alev Ateş, district co-chairs İrfan Hülakü and Hilal Cıvıl,and various HDP members.
A former mayor and HDP’s former provincial co-chair were also detained in eastern Van and Bingöl provinces. The former Bingöl HDP Co-chair Saadet Fırat is currently fighting cancer.
The family of Halit Çağlın argued with the police when they attempted to detain the bedridden man in the southeastern Mardin province in a dawn raid. The prosecutor later intervened and Çağlın was not detained.
“The Justice and Development Party (AKP) turns up its aggression against all sections of society as it loses more power and grows weaker,” the HDP said in a statement condemning the raids.
“This mentality says all who demand democracy, peace, equality, and their rights and freedoms are terrorists. It uses the judiciary and the police force as a stick to attack all, and targets the most dynamic factions. It is no coincidence that our party, the HDK and GÖÇİZDER are in the crosshairs,” the party said.
“AKP is an enemy to all that is democratic and pluralistic in this country, all those who embody diversity and colour. This attack against the HDK that has in it workers, migrants, women, peasants, young people, pensioners, the disabled, all marginalised peoples, all faith groups, and all whose living spaces have been destroyed is a manifestation of the darkness the government imposes on society,” it added.
The GÖÇİZDER was founded by Kurds and other peoples who were forced to migrate to Turkey’s west from Kurdish-majority provinces when their villages were burned down during the height of the Kurdish conflict in the 1990s, HDP said. “This raid is proof that the AKP represents the darkness of the 1990s today.”
HDP deputies also attended a protest in front of the raided HDK offices.
“Everywhere in our country, those who fight for rights, freedom and equality suffer unbridled, unhinged, unlawful and arbitrary aggression. Every day we live through the toughest of consequences,” former HDK Co-spokesperson Sedat Şenoğlu told reporters.
“Such attacks have happened many times before. This is the way of the mafia state,” HDK Co-spokesperson Esengül Demir said.
According to HDP Van deputy Sezai Temelli, police fired shots inside a home in the eastern border province during one of the raids.
“They are using these tactics to disband democratic politics since the civilian coup on 20th July, 2016,” Temelli said, referring to the state of emergency the AKP declared in the wake of the failed coup attempt of 15th July.
“State of emergency and war policies are one way to prop up a government that is spent,” Temelli said.
“Until this order changes, nobody will know peace. If this violence is today at our door, rest assured that it will soon knock on yours,” he said. “It is time to meet in the democracy front and alliance. Only together we can stop this barbarism.”