Turkish police have prevented pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) officials, including mostly lawmakers from issuing a press statement criticizing the country’s military offensive in northeast Syria, the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) reported on Sunday.
Ankara’s military operation, which started on October 9, has drawn a strong reaction from both international actors and dissidents in Turkey who accuse the ruling AK Party (AKP) government of committing war crimes and other violations.
MPs and other officials from the pro-Kurdish HDP, who wanted to make a statement in Yenisehir district of the southeastern Diyarbakir province, were on Sunday hindered by police.
Hundreds of officers were dispatched to the area where the deputies had previously announced they were going to hold a public statement protesting against the military operation.
HDP lawmakers Musa Farisogulları, Imam Tascier, Feleknas Uca and the party’s provincial co-leader in Diyarbakir, Zeyyat Ceylan could not reach the spot where they had planned to issue the statement.
They were blocked by police officers who formed a circle around them using riot control shields.
The police formed another circle in a separate location around MPs Semra Guzel, Dersim Dag and Saliha Aydeniz and did not allow them out until they agreed not to make any statement.
According to pro-Kurdish MA, the police officers also used force to move citizens and journalists 500 meters away from the area where HDP officials are kept inside police circles.
“You are tyrants, but know that this tyranny will be your end,” MP Aydeniz on Sunday said addressing the governing AKP.
“They cannot even stand us making a statement. Children are dying in Rojava,” she underlined.
Rojava is the Kurdish name for north Syria.
“They don’t let us raise our voices against the invasion of Rojava. Resisting to war in Rojava means living,” lawmaker Uca also said.
Only when they agreed not to make any statement to the public were the HDP officials allowed by police officers to go outside of the circle and leave the area.
The Turkish government’s stated objective for carrying out the operation in northern Syria was to clear the region off the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants that they consider a threat on the border.
YPG is designated as a terrorist organization by Ankara due to its links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a separatist insurgency in southeast Turkey for decades.
Since the beginning of the offensive, officials from the pro-Kurdish HDP have expressed their views against it, labeling the military operation as an “invasion attempt” and an “illegal war” in Syria.