Turkish police raided several apartments in two Kurdish-majority southeastern provinces on early Friday, detaining dozens of people, including Kurdish politicians and activists.
A prosecutor in Diyarbakir has launched an investigation of the Free Women’s Movement (TJA) activists and Rosa Women’s Association executives and members over terrorism charges, the ANF news agency reported.
Storming several addresses in Diyarbakir and Urfa provinces at 4 am, the heavy-armed police detained Narin Gezgor, a founding member of Rosa, and Ayla Akat Ata, president of the association and TJA activist Gulcihan Simsek.
Tonight Turkish police raided the houses of Kurdish politicians & activists, including many women. Among the detainees are the founders of Rosa Women's Association Ayla Akat Ata, Narin Gezgör & Adalet Kaya, the members of Free Women's Movement (TJA) Gülcihan Şimşek & Zelal Bilgin pic.twitter.com/XVNeP3j1CD
— deftera reş (@DefteraRes) May 22, 2020
Ozlem Gunduz, a central executive board member of Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP), was among the detainees, according to local media.
After hours of a police search at the apartments, some other politicians including the Democratic Regions Party (DBP) former Co-Chair Mehmet Aslan, politicians Celal Yoldas, and Nazile Tursun have been taken into custody.
Rosa Women’s Association said on Twitter that the police broke into their building and seized all documents in the organization’s offices.
Derneğimiz üyelerinin ve TJA aktivistlerinin göz altına alınmasını kadın kazanımlarına, kadın mücadelesine yapılmış bir darbe olarak nitelendiriyoruz.Biran önce arkadaşlarımız serbest bırakılmalıdır !
KadınÖrgütlerine SaldırılaraSon@TJAMerkez @ihdamedkadin @kadinsavunmasi pic.twitter.com/wDKeFuaiio
— Rosa Kadın Derneği (@rosakadinderne1) May 22, 2020
The group described the mass police operations as an attempt to silence women activists opposing the “androcracy” and the oppression on the women.
“No oppression has been able to restrain our women’s solidarity. Our struggle has no boundary, and we will keep upbringing the fight of the women,” HDP spokesperson Ebru Gunay said in a written statement.
Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been targeting Kurdish politicians, parties and organizations as part of its mass crackdown on dissidents for years.
Selahattin Demirtas, HDP’s former co-chair, has been in prison since he was jailed in 2016 on several offences that include terror-related charges.
He faces 142 years in prison if found guilty in the main case against him.
Turkey accuses the HDP, the third biggest party in the parliament, of having links to the outlawed Kurdish separatists, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long armed struggle against it.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that the former pro-Kurdish leader’s conviction for a speech he gave in 2005 was a violation of the politician’s right to free speech.
However, Turkish courts have not implemented the ECtHR decision and continue to keep Demirtas behind bars.
The number of HDP mayors dismissed from their posts after they were elected in many southeastern municipalities in the March 2019 local elections stood at 45 as of early May.
An EU statement said government-appointed trustees had taken over 45 of 65 pro-Kurdish mayors’ positions.
“The total number of dismissed mayors in the south-east of Turkey since August 2019 reached 45. In addition, hundreds of local politicians and elected officeholders and thousands of members of the HDP have been detained on terrorism-related charges since the local elections in March 2019,” said Peter Stano, the Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy at the EU.
The EU statement named the operations against the Kurdish politicians “politically motivated” and stated the union’s “deep concern.”