Spate of arrests ‘political not legal’ says Turkey’s HDP party

HDP lawmakers Tascier, Osman Baydemir, Mehmet Emin Adiyaman, Ahmet Yildirim were detained and released in January 2017

Turkey’s Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) released a statement criticising the recent spate of arrests targeting party deputies. The HDP called the arrest of ten lawmakers in the past week, “unlawful and abusive”. 9 MPs were released after questioning by the prosecutor.

Referring to the upcoming constitutional referendum, proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and supported by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the statement claimed, “the Erdogan-AKP-MHP alliance is trying to prevent our MPs from conducting the ‘no’ campaign”.

The left-wing pro-minority rights party, which last week declared it would run a campaign against the constitutional change affording President Erdogan executive powers, said they would not be cowed by intimidation.

“The existence of a democratic people’s force which can stop it, has pushed the government into targeting us in an illegal and political operation. You cannot break our political will and force us to change our stance by taking us hostage, arresting or detaining us.”

11 HDP deputies, including the party’s co-leaders, were jailed pending trial in November after parliamentary immunity was lifted in Turkey. According to the party at least six thousand members have been jailed following the coup attempt in July.

The HDP is accused of having ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). A charge the party denies.