Members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) the Free Women’s Movement and various other political groups gathered in Istiklal Street in Istanbul city centre on Sunday to make a public statement against Turkey’s ongoing incursions into the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) and northeast Syria (Rojava).
They were immediately surrounded by police who closed Istiklal Street to pedestrian traffic both ways and tried to disperse the crowd.
HDP MP Sezai Temelli addressed the crowd briefly despite the police harassment.
“We’ve gathered here to say no to war, to declare that we stand together for peace. But as you see, this government, who knows no other way but war and violence, has surrounded this spot with a circle of violence too. We do not accept this. We are exercising our democratic and constitutional right. We have gathered here to make a public statement. This is our most fundamental right.”
The crowd started chanting anti-war slogans, and the police began making arrests.
Small groups continued to demonstrate around Taksim Square, chanting slogans.
Dozens of people were arrested, including Şahin Tümüklü, co-chair of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed, HDP branch officials, and the lawyer Veysel Eski.
As the detainees were being taken to Istanbul Police Department, the police also surrounded the HDP’s Istanbul offices blocking all entrances and exits.
Mezopotamya News Agency reported on Monday that 31 detainees were released, while 17 were still under custody.