Turkey’s pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party partially boycotts parliament

November 6, 2016 2:30 pm

Protesters shout slogans as they hold placards, reading “Democracy resists against all coups” on November 5, 2016 during a demonstration in Istanbul. (Photo by AFP)

’s pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, known as the HDP, has decided to halt its legislative activities in the parliament in protest at the recent arrest of its leaders and other lawmakers.
HDP spokesman Ayhan Bilgen made the announcement in a statement read out in front of the party’s offices in Diyarbakir and broadcast on the Internet on Sunday.
“After discussions with our parliamentary group and our central executive board, we have decided to halt our legislative efforts in light of everything that has happened,” he said.
Bilgen further noted that a full withdrawal from the Turkish legislature could be considered after consultation with the supporters of HDP — the third-largest party in the legislature. 
Earlier this week, Turkish authorities took into custody Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, the HDP co-leaders, along with seven other lawmakers. They were charged with alleged membership and promotion of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
In another development on Sunday, the police detained 15 suspects in an operation targeting the PKK across Turkey’s southern province of Adana.
The raids, backed by helicopter, were carried out simultaneously at various spots, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Riot police use tear gas to disperse demonstrators during a protest against the arrest of pro-Kurdish lawmakers, in Ankara, Turkey, November 4, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)

A shaky ceasefire between Ankara and the PKK that had stood since 2013 was declared null and void in by the militants last July following the Turkish strikes against the group.
EU raps decline in Turkey press freedom
Meanwhile, the European Union has expressed concerns over a decline in press freedom and judiciary independence in Turkey amid a widening state crackdown on opposition following the failed July 15 military coup.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, made the criticism in a report, which is expected to be published on Wednesday.
The German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung said on Sunday that the report had cited “a significant relapse” in press freedom in Turkey and noted that one fifth of prosecutors and judges in the country had been dismissed after the abortive putsch.
The Ankara government has applied legal decisions over national security and the fight against terrorism “selectively and randomly,” the report was further cited as saying.
According to the German paper, the report had voiced significant concerns about the number of Turkish journalists arrested and media outlets shut down following the attempted coup, saying some of the detainees had been held for up to 30 days before standing trial.
The report also raises “very serious questions” about the Turkish government’s collective actions against those suspected of ties to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for orchestrating the failed putsch. Gulen denies the accusation.
It seems that people were being arrested over mere “association” with Gulen rather than any specific individual actions, the report was cited as saying.
Earlier this week, Turkish police arrested over a dozen journalists and executives of the opposition daily Cumhuriyet on suspicion of having links to Gulen and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). A court jailed nine of the detainees on Saturday.
In Saturday’s front page, the daily said, “You will stand ashamed in front of history,” in a message to the government.
Supporters and staff at Cumhuriyet also held a demonstration in support of their colleagues, holding up copies of the paper’s latest edition.
Under the post-coup state of emergency declared in Turkey, over 110,000 judges, policemen, teachers and civil servants have been detained or suspended while some 170 newspapers, magazines,  agencies and TV stations have been closed. 
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