EU rapporteur criticizes Turkey’s continued crackdown on Kurdish party

The latest repression against the HDP makes it more difficult for the “Kurds to fight the coronavirus.”

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The European Union’s special rapporteur on Turkey on Monday criticized a new crackdown by the Turkish government on the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) after Ankara seized eight Kurdish municipalities amid the coronavirus epidemic.

“It’s very hard to see and understand how even in [these] harsh times the Government continues to undermine local democracy by going against the democratically expressed will of the people in the last elections,” the European Parliament’s rapporteur on Turkey, Nacho Sánchez Amor, wrote on Twitter.

On March 23, Turkish police raided several HDP-run municipalities and houses in multiple Kurdish localities, detaining many elected mayors, and replacing eight elected Kurdish mayors with appointed Turkish government officials known as trustees.

The mayors were arrested on charges of “membership to a terror organization.”

The Turkish government has officially appointed trustees to a total of 40 HDP-run municipalities since local elections were held on March 31, 2019.

The Turkish government accuses the HDP of having close ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an allegation it has used to justify its crackdown on Kurdish politicians. The HDP denies links to the PKK, which has been fighting a decades-long insurgency against Ankara over Kurdish rights in Turkey.

HDP’s co-chair Mithat Sancar accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of trying to use the coronavirus pandemic to consolidate its power.

The HDP leader told reporters during a press conference on Monday that while the “whole world searches for a method to fight COVID-19 (coronavirus), Erdogan’s government is seeking something completely different.”

“Neither the people of this country nor humanity as a whole will forget how the AKP is now trying to take advantage of this global threat,” Sancar said.

“This is not only the HDP’s problem. This is about Turkey’s future. Therefore, we expect everyone to stand against the government’s policy of appointing trustees instead of democratically-elected representatives of the people.”

In a public statement on Tuesday, co-spokespersons of the HDP, Feleknas Uca and Hişyar Özsoy, called on the United Nations and the EU to condemn and take action against these “unlawful and racist policies.”

They also underlined that the latest repression against the HDP makes it more difficult for the “Kurds to fight the coronavirus.”

“One would expect the anti-Kurdish ‘evil’ that marks the core of Turkish political establishment to stop at least in these times of the coronavirus. It sadly does not,” they concluded.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany