End the crackdown on the People’s Democratic Party in Turkey

HDP congress in Ankara, February 2020. Photo: Alex Bainbridge

The Socialist Alliance stands in solidarity with the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey and condemns the anti-democratic attacks waged by the Erdoğan regime against the popular left-wing party.

On September 26, we received word that the chief prosecutor in Ankara had issued arrest warrants had been issued for 82 HDP representatives in connection to a protest in 2014.

This is a politically-motivated attack disguised as a judicial matter.

Those targeted include parliamentarians, mayors and party leaders. It is just the latest manifestation of a long-running campaign of intimidation and suppression by the ultra-nationalist and decisively anti-Kurdish Justice and Development Party and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party ruling alliance.

The HDP is a legal, democratic political party and one of the biggest opposition parties in the parliament in Turkey. Its membership includes Turks, Kurds, and members of other ethnic groups in the Turkish state. But it has been subjected to persecution by the authoritarian and corrupt Erdoğan regime because it campaigns for Kurdish rights, as well as democratic freedoms for all citizens.

On the other side of the world, Socialist Alliance has been following your struggle, and we want to express our solidarity in the strongest and most heartfelt way we can.

To the Australian government we say this: Australia cannot remain silent.

It needs to take a strong stand and condemn this barbaric, anti-democratic action by the Turkish regime.

Australia must also call on all countries to distance themselves diplomatically from this hard-right regime.

To those who haven’t been following Turkish politics closely, or haven’t heard much about the HDP because it is not covered by the corporate media, I say this:

I had the privilege of visiting Turkey in February, just before the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and met the HDP’s leaders and activists — they are a wonderful testament to the best of humanity. These are the people who are on the front lines, struggling against a brutal authoritarian regime in Turkey.

Why have these arrest warrants have been issued?

Because these brave HDP activists were taking part in protests within Turkey, back in 2014, in support of Kobane in Rojava.

You may not have heard of the Rojava revolution, but these people were supporting the independent free will of the people of Kobane against ISIS attacks.

At least 43 people were killed by the Turkish police in that protest, many of whom were members or sympathizers of the HDP.

Already since 2015, more than 16,000 members of the HDP have been detained, at one point or another, and more than 5000 members have been sent to prison, including MPs, mayors and leaders of the party.

Erdoğan and the Turkish government have launched a major all-out crackdown on a democratic party, the HDP says because are not happy with the defeat of the ISIS by Kurdish fighters in Kobane in 2014.

The HDP believes that since then, the government’s aggression has grown and that these new arrests are a part of Erdoğan’s politics of revenge for the defeat of ISIS in Kobane. Some of the arrestees had already been arrested, prosecuted and acquitted in the past for the exact same charges.

All progressive people have a stake here.

We call on the Australian government to condemn the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms for this latest outrage.

I urge you to also: find out more about the HDP by looking up Green Left and other sources for more information; and contact your local federal representative and urge them to take a strong stand for democracy and against this latest repression by the Erdoğan regime in Turkey.

[Alex Bainbridge is the national convenor of Socialist Alliance.]