Protests in Europe and Turkey Against Seizures of HDP Municipalities
The undemocratic seizure of five more HDP municipalities by the Turkish state has provoked protests across Europe and Turkey. With activists demonstrating against the dictatorial actions in several cities and civil society groups condemning the seizures.
In France, socially distanced protests took place in various cities. Kurdish Youth Movement activists in Drancy, Toulouse and Strasbourg carried banners into the streets of their respective cities to condemn the authoritarian AKP-MHP government.
Meanwhile, in Marseilles activists took to St Charles Train station to protest the recent seizures and the military operations of the Turkish state in Southern Kurdistan (Northern Iraq).
Similar actions took place in Switzerland and Germany. For example, in Stuttgart activists carried banners condemning President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his oppression of Kurdish populations across the region. In Bern activists held a ceremony to commemorate fallen YPG/J fighters who fought against ISIS and the Turkish invasion of Northern Syria recently.
Protests also took place across Turkey especially in municipalities affected by the illegal seizures. Social media sites in Turkey were also filled with condemnations of the dictatorial seizures.
In Siirt, HDP party members and civil society representatives assembled to give a press statement condemning the seizures. Alongside HDP MPs and representatives stood activists from the Peace Mothers Assembly, a civil society group promoting peace and representing the mothers of those affected by Turkey’s wars in Kurdistan.
Similar statements and protests also occurred in similarly affected municipalities including; Kars, Ağrı and Patnos. The continued condemnation follows a statement by 13 opposition parties in Turkey condemning the undemocratic nature of the state.
Turkish lawyers have also spoken out against the unconstitutional and undemocratic nature of the seizures. 22 bar associations in Turkey have condemned the seizures.
Associations in; Adana, Ağrı, Adıyaman, Artvin, Batman, Bingöl, Bitlis, Bursa, Amed, Antep, Hakkâri, Hatay, Kars, İstanbul, İzmir, Mardin, Mersin, Muş, Van, Siirt, Urfa, Şırnak and Dersim condemned the seizure of the the HDP-run municipalities of Siirt, Iğdır, Kurtalan, Baykan and Altinova. The appointment of government trustees, and detention of freely and democratically elected co-mayors drew strong condemnation from the associations.
The statement of the 22 bar associations said: “We want to state that the dismissal of mayors and and the detentions, as well as the appointment of trustees are incompatible with the law. As the whole world is struggling with the coronavirus pandemic this detentions and trustees appointments are actually harming social peace.”
The statement added: “The appointment of trustees goes against the outcome of the ballot box, and appears to be an action directed towards the elimination of the will of voters. This decision actually causes serious damage to the rule of law and our democracy.
The detention of mayors and the appointment of trustees in their place violated the basic rules of law, the right to elect and to be elected. The detained mayors should be released and returned to their posts immediately.”
International human rights NGOs such as Human Rights Watch have also criticised the seizures. Similarly, the European Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and the European Parliament have previously expressed concern about the undemocratic nature of the seizures calling for the reinstatement of HDP Mayors.
Despite these criticisms many EU states continue to turn a blind eye to Turkish authoritarianism and continue to prop up the regime economically and through the sale of arms to Ankara. The EU-Turkey pact regarding Syrian refugees has also been criticised for enabling mistreatment of refugees by Turkey.