Mass Arrest of members of new political party in Turkey

Message from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), Turkey

On Thursday morning, 24 December2009, an operation was carried out by security forces against the Peace and Democracy Party (Baris ve Demokrasi Partisi - BDP). More than 80 people were taken into custody, including mayors and former members of parliament.

The detentions were carried out without respect for universal legal principles, by breaking doors and raiding houses arbitrarily.

After the closure of the Democratic Society Party [DTP] by the Constitutional Court on 11 December2009, 94 mayors, members of provincial assemblies and members of city councils joined the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) on 23 December2009. It's thought provoking that the operation was carried out against the BDP without even 24 hours having passed.

Shortly after the clear victory of Democratic Society Party in the local election on 29 March 2009, 53 senior DTP activists - including vice co-presidents of the party - were detained and arrested in an operation launched on the morning of 14 April 2009. Although 8 months have passed, these party members have not been tried. Moreover, they don't even know what they're being accused of due to a judicial decision to prevent access to their case files. Up until now, the number of arrested Kurdish politicians including the 53 DTP executives has exceeded 500.

As this injustice continues, today 80 Kurdish politicians and representatives of NGOs - including former DEP deputy and co-president of Democratic Society Congress, Mr. Hatip DICLE, Mayor of Sur Municipality, Mr. Abdullah DEMIRBAS, Mayor of KayapInar, Mr. Zülkif KARATEKIN, former DEP Deputy and Mayor of Siirt, Mr. Selim SADAK, Mayor of BATMAN, Mr. Necdet ATALAY, Mayor of Viransehir and member of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe Mrs. Leyla GÜVEN, Mayor of Kiziltepe, Mr. Ferhan TÜRK and Vice President of the Human Rights Association, Mr. Muharrem ERBEY were taken into custody under the instructions of prosecutors.

The AKP Government has on the one hand redoubled offensives against the Kurdish people's political will and on the other hand misled Turkish and international public opinion with the rhetoric of the "democratic opening". The Democratic Society Party (DTP), which received nearly 2.5 million votes in the last local election, has been shut down; DTP Co-Presidents Mr. Ahmet TÜRK and Diyarbakir Deputy Ms. Aysel TU?LUK's statuses as members of parliament have been lifted. As a response to these attacks, DTP's deputies initially decided to resign from their seats. But after taking into consideration public calls not to resign, DTP deputies reversed their decision and instead chose to continue their insistence on democratic politics and a peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem with a democratic struggle on the floor of parliament under the banner of the Peace and Democracy Party, BDP. The last raid after the DTP's decision is a provocation and this operation is not independent from the AKP government.

Unfortunately, the calls for sensitivity we made to Turkish and international public opinion following the April 14 operation and subsequent closure of the DTP were not sufficiently considered and the attacks on the political will of the Kurdish people continued. As the BDP, we want to share once again our concern that these attacks will deepen the atmosphere of chaos and crisis in Turkey and escalate violence. The solution isn't to detain and arrest the representatives of the Kurdish people's political will; it's to recognize their will and accept their representatives as negotiators for a solution. In accordance with our responsibility, we want to caution Turkish and international public opinion. The AKP government's concept of a solution to the Kurdish question without Kurds is dragging Turkey toward war. The tension in Turkey will negatively influence the entire world and especially the Middle East. In this regard we believe it is essential that international public opinion adopts an attitude in support of democracy and inclusion of the voice of the Kurdish people in the face of these unfair and unjust attacks. We call on all of international public opinion to raise their voices and to stand in solidarity in order to bring an immediate end to these operations against the BDP and NGOs.

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