HDP responds with sit-in after police block Istanbul solidarity march

Turkish police on Monday blocked an Istanbul march by the country’s pro-Kurdish party in support of its hunger-striking parliamentarian, spurring demonstrators to stage a sit-in in protest.


People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chairs Pervin Buldan and Sezai Temelli, several party members of parliament (MP) and some supporters gathered in Istanbul's central Taksim Square to back hunger strikes by MP Leyla Güven and others. The strikes are meant to pressure Ankara to end its policy of isolation and release Abdullah Öcalan, jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey.

The police blocked the group’s march toward Istiklal Avenue, Istanbul’s main pedestrian thoroughfare. HDP Co-Chair Temelli said the march would be completed, and the demonstrators began a sit-in protest at Taksim.

Leyla Güven began her hunger strike last Nov. 8, 2018, making Monday her 96th day without solid food. More than 250 political prisoners subsequently started their own hunger strikes in solidarity.

Yesterday, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said the march would not be allowed.

"Because 'Apo' (Öcalan) is in prison, the MPs say that they will march left and right," he said, "I am no man if I let you march.”

The HDP’s social media account posted pictures of the rally and said: "Here is our answer to the interior minister: Stopping deaths is a prerequisite to be 'human'."