ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish police on Monday raided the local headquarters of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in the Kurdish provinces of Diyarbakir and Batman, arresting at least 53 people, almost all of them women, who were on a hunger strike in solidarity with political prisoners.
Hundreds of police officers and armored vehicles surrounded the HDP’s local branches in the two cities, before entering the buildings to carry detentions ordered by Turkish prosecutors on the grounds party members and activists were “members of a terrorist organization.”
The raids that came in the evening hours saw the arrest of 26 in Diyarbakir and 27 in Batman, among the first group an 80-year-old woman, Kurdistan 24’s Turkish language service wrote.
A short video the HDP shared on the party’s official Twitter feed showed a tense standoff between sitting women and police officers waiting for orders to detain them.
The detentions are not the first in this recent wave of a now years-long crackdown as earlier this month police took nine people from HDP’s branch in the Mediterranean city of Mersin into custody.
A jailed Kurdish lawmaker Leyla Guven launched the hunger strike in prison over four weeks ago, demanding the Turkish state ends its policy of isolation on Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Ocalan, who serves a life sentence on the Imrali island in Turkey’s inland sea of Marmara for nearly two decades now and still holds large political leverage, has been held incommunicado since 2016, the last time a family member visited him. The last time Turkish authorities allowed him a meeting with his lawyers was in 2011.
Guven, who was elected an MP for the Hakkari Province in June 2018 elections while in detention, was arrested almost a year ago at the beginning of Turkey’s invasion of the Afrin region in Syrian Kurdistan due to her comments to the media condemning the assault. The “terror-related” case against her is pending trial.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany