Pro-Kurdish HDP at centre of Turkish gov’t crackdown on opposition - Guardian

The solidarity displayed last year by Turkey’s opposition parties is failing, with the country’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) bearing the brunt of an ever-intensifying crackdown by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government, the Guardian said on Wednesday.

One year after the opposition’s landmark victory in the local polls, which handed Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) its greatest defeat in its 17 years in power, the HDP is faced with deputy removals from parliament, arrests and police intervention in demonstrations to protest the government crackdown.

“The level of force on show was worse than ever: soldiers, police, helicopters, guns everywhere,” HDP lawmaker Garo Paylan, who participated in the party’s six-day march to the capital Ankara last week, told the Guardian.

“We try to walk in peace but the state doesn’t even allow that. Courage is very hard under these circumstances,” Paylan added.

The protest march came after two HDP deputies were stripped of their parliamentary seats then arrested on terror charges, in addition to the removal of 45 mayors from 65 HDP-won municipalities in Turkey’s southeast region.

The government accuses the HDP of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, an armed group that has been at war in Turkey for almost 40 years.

“Many feel that support for the HDP from the main liberal opposition party, the Republican People’s party (CHP), is lacking,’’ the Guardian said, recalling HDP’s support for the CHP, which allowed the latter to win six of Turkey’s seven most populous provinces in the March 2019 local polls.

“We had hope in last year’s mayoral elections, we came together to support (Istanbul CHP candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu) against the government,” a HDP voter from Diyarbakır told the UK newspaper.

Turkey’s next elections are not scheduled until 2023, Guardian said, but the ruling AKP is busy attempting to make changes to electoral laws to shut out AKP breakaway parties, led by former allies of Erdoğan.

Even so, analysts remain hopeful about Turkey’s political future.

“It may not be a level playing field any more but Turkey’s opposition is vigilant. They’re not going anywhere,” the Guardian quoted Soner Çağaptay, the director of the Turkish research programme at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, as saying.