The Washington Kurdish Institute (WKI) condemns the detentions and arrests of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-leaders Mr. Selahattin Demirtash and Ms. Figen Yuksekdag and other HDP members of parliament in Turkey. This mass detention of elected HDP parliamentarians represents an attempt to purge parliament of its third largest party and silence the will of over 5 million citizens who voted for the HDP in Turkey’s most recent general elections, marking an end to any semblance of an actual democratic process in Turkey. These actions follow the arrest of the democratically elected co-mayors of Diyarbakır, Ms. Gultan Kıshanak and Mr. Firat Anli, and other elected local officials, as well as an intensified campaign against free press which has included the closure of the all-female news agency JINHA, Kurdish children’s TV channel, Zarok TV, and several other media organizations along with the detention of numerous journalists.
We call upon the international community, the government of the United States, the European Union, and international human rights organizations to denounce these detentions and arrests and all other efforts to restrict democratic freedom of expression. We also call upon Turkey to immediately release all recently detained HDP parliamentarians and other elected officials and to drop all criminal charges and associated travel bans against them. A silencing of arms and return to the peace process is the only path forward to achieve peace and stability in Turkey, and attacks against democratically elected officials will only increase violence and further destabilize Turkey.
The Washington Kurdish Institute
November 4, 2016