A HIGH HANDED approach by the police saw a march by the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) being stopped in Istanbul on Monday after threats were made by Turkey’s Interior Minister.
The march was to protest against the isolation terms implemented on the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.
Suleyman Soylu, the Interior Minister, arrogantly said: “I will be damned if I let you walk.” Soylu said this after HDP MPs announced their intention to protest.
HDP lawmakers planned to march from Taksim square to Galatasaray square in Istanbul. Besides protesting against the visitor ban on Ocalan, the party also wanted to endorse Leyla Güven, the HDP MP on a hunger strike and protest the isolation terms of the PKK leader as she will, on February 15, enter the 100th day of her act.
Speaking at an election gathering in the capital city, Ankara, Soylu denounced HDP’s actions as providing manpower to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on Sunday.
Responding to Soylu’s statements later that day, HDP co-chair Sezai Temelli declared that marches will take place, despite the threats.
Initially gathering at the Taksim square, the group was surrounded by riot police, impeding their further movement. Police told the group they are free to raise awareness without marching.
Temelli’s speech called on the authorities to end the visitor ban enforced on Ocalan.
Several attempts by HDP members to march towards Galatasaray square from then on, were all blocked by the police.
The intercepted HDP MPs were carrying Guven’s photo and although few of them made it to the Galatasaray square, the police did not allow any further action or statement there.
The PKK chief Abdullah Ocalan was barred from seeing any visitors in the wake of the failed 2016 coup and is currently being denied any meeting with his lawyers.