Turkish government will not tolerate a “Democracy March” by the opposition HDP

One leg of the “March for Democracy against a Coup” campaign started from the most southeastern corner of the country Hakkari, the other from Edirne, the most north western point. Both legs are marching to the capital, Ankara. The marches are expected to last several days. However, the Turkish government and its police force attacked both legs of the Democracy March. The Turkish government feels threatened by anything that reminds democracy.

Turkish government will not tolerate a “Democracy March” by the opposition HDP

Turkish government will not tolerate a “Democracy March”

As it loses in poll after poll the Turkish government sees its only survival in suppressing and jailing the opposition. The fake charges against the opposition that end up in prison sentences usually comes after the government forcefully takes over the provincial town municipalities the opposition wins with open elections.

Most provincial governments held by the opposition HDP have been taken away and an unelected official, appointed by the central government has taken charge in these places. As soon as the “stewardship,” as the central governing AKP calls them, takes over, the town budget quickly goes to bankruptcy since spending and liquidating the municipality’s budget is one of the ways the Islamic and anti-democratic Turkish government fights the people who had dared to vote against it.

Then comes the annulment of the elected officials in the National Assembly. By dropping their elected positions, the government sends the opposition representatives to prison as a way to suppress any opposition both on the streets and in the National Assembly.

After taking over the elected municipalities, jailing the very popular leader of the HDP, Selahattin Demirtaş, the central government of the Islamic AKP recently cancelled the titles of two HDP elected representatives together with one main opposition party representative from the CHP. The HDP Assembly representatives are Leyla Güven from the Easten Hakkari province, a Kurdish district, and Musa Farisoğulları, again from the Kurdish district of Diyarbakır.

Under these attacks, the HDP decided to reach out to its electorate and to those who still believe in democracy. The representatives and supporters decided to march across the country in a two pronged “Democracy March”

One leg of the “March for Democracy against a Coup” campaign started from the most southeastern corner of the country Hakkari, the other from Edirne, the most north western point. Both legs are marching to the capital, Ankara. The marches are expected to last several days.

In a surprise move, the main opposition party CHP gave support to this march. Being an ultra-nationalist center party, CHP had maintained its silence when the HDP was attacked repeatedly by the government. CHP even approved the imprisonment of the HDP’s popular and charismatic leader Selahattin Demirtaş when his elected status in the National Assembly was annulled by the government, saying, “We know this move is against the constitution, but we just had to do it.” The issue stems from CHP’s ultra-Turkish nationalism ideology while HDP is considered as a Kurdish part although it claims to be the democratic-left party of the entire country be it Turkish or Kurdish.

As soon as the march was announced, the Turkish government went into a panic mode.

The cities and roads the march was to take place in were immediately put under curfew, all demonstrations, marches, rallies banned, and heavy police and army units called to duty to prevent any demonstration against the government. Some towns on the way of the march have already decided not to let the marchers enter. Kocaeli, Edirne, Tekirdağ, Bursa, Adana, Bitlis, Van and Şırnak are some of the towns where the government will not allow the marchers to pass.

March from the Southeastern point
On the first day, those who gathered to either march or to support the marchers were attacked by the Turkish police. In Silivri where the HDP party members gathered to start 10 people were detained. The marchers are led by National Assembly representatives of HDP and are “assumed” to have immunity. However, the Turkish police does not take the law of the land very seriously and attacks the HDP representatives just as easily as they attack the Kurdish people. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd here. In Hakkari, the police tried to prevent the start of the march.

Reaching the city of Van in the second day of the “Democracy March,” the HDP co-president Mithat Sancar visited the Bar Association of Van and talked to the attorneys and justices there. Mithat Sancar is an attorney but has also taught at colleges on law. He said, “Wherever I visit usually I see some of my students in these organizations of justice. I am very proud of them when I see them serve. That is why visiting the Bar Associations has a special meaning for me.”

March from the Northwestern point
Before the march started at Edirne where the president of HDP is held in prison the police attacked the crowd. The police questioned the journalists and insisted on learning the reason why they were covering the event.

When the marchers wanted to hold a press conference in front of the prison where Selahattin Demirtaş, the HDP president, is held, the police would not give permission. After long negotiations, marchers wanted to start the march but the police prevented that as well and the participants had to use their vehicles to get on their way to Ankara, the nation’s capital.

On the second day of the march approaching from the northwest, the participants entered the Esenyurt district where the police had already erected barriers to prevent them. The marchers and the local supporters confronted the police and shouted, “HDP is the people and the people are here” and “HDP is the hope and hope is alive.” They also shouted “Shoulder to shoulder against fascism.”

After the initial confrontation, the HDP members were able to push their way through the police lines but the clashes led to a discussion with the local governor who was forced to open the way to the marchers to gather in a plaza that was not central to the local town. Here, the speakers were able to voice their concern about the erosion of democracy in Turkey and protested the stewardships imposed by the government against elected officials and the annulment of the positions in the National Assembly of the elected opposition representatives.

Sendika.org news (M.B.)

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