Turkey’s governors ban demonstrations ahead of pro-Kurdish HDP march

The governor of Turkey’s northwestern province of Tekirdağ has joined six others in issuing a provice-wide ban on all protests and demonstrations, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported on Saturday.

The governor’s office of Tekirdağ banned all gatherings for three days, between June 14 and 17, following a similar ban by the governors of the eastern provinces of Hakkari, Van, Bitlis, Gaziantep and Şanlıurfa.

“There have been calls for gatherings in our province and some other provinces to protest the revocation of parliamentary status for former deputies Kadri Enis Berberoğlu, Musa Farisoğulları and Leyla Güven and their arrest,” the governor’s office said.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Berberoğlu and pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputies Güven and Farisoğulları were been stripped of their status as parliamentarians on June 4. All three were arrested shortly after on espionage and terror charges. Güven and Berberoğlu have since been released.

The HDP announced earlier this week that would be holding a march to capital Ankara in protest between June 15 and 20. The march was set to start from two locations, Edirne, where many HDP politicians including former co-chairs Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş are imprisoned, and HDP-stronghold Hakkari.

Such demonstrations could lead to “tensions between opposing groups,” and “violent street protests,” the governor’s statement said.

The march would threaten public order and weaken Turkey’s fight against the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, violating social distancing guidelines, it continued.

Entry to Tekirdağ will be restricted “to prevent such undesirable events, to protect peace, national security and the public order, to uphold the fundamental characteristics of the Republic, the unity of the state with its country and people, and to avoid the spread of the coronavirus pandemic,” the governor said.

Persons attempting to enter the province will be subject to legal action and administrative fines, according to the statement.