Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputies gathered at a park in İstanbul’s Kadıköy district as part of a series of protests that will continue until Nov. 4, the anniversary of the detention of HDP Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş along with eight other party deputies.
HDP deputies Filiz Kerestecioğlu, Garo Paylan, Hüda Kaya, Ayşe Acar Başaran, Sırrı Süreyya Önder, Mithat Sancar, Serpil Kemalbay and Nadir Yıldırım went to Yoğurtçu Park in Kadıköy on Tuesday along with the heads of several labor confederations and a big crowd.
Speaking under a heavy police presence, Önder said the protests would spread from Edirne to Hakkari to demand justice for the jailed HDP deputies.
“Our elected mayors, members of municipal councils and deputies were subjected to a political crackdown [by the government]. We will insist on standing in the line of peace and democracy. We thank all those who came here to support us. We believe we won’t give an opportunity to those who want to provoke people here. Long live peace and the people’s brotherhood,” he said.
HDP Co-chair Kemalbay also held the party’s parliamentary group meeting in the park.
Meanwhile, police set up barricades in front of the park where the HDP deputies had gathered and prevented people from joining the protest.
Demirtaş, along with HDP Co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ and seven other HDP politicians, were detained on Nov. 4, 2016 and ultimately arrested on charges of terrorism.
There are currently 11 HDP deputies behind bars in Turkey after the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government stepped up a crackdown on Kurdish politicians last fall. Trustees have been appointed to dozens of municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast, while hundreds of local Kurdish politicians have been arrested on terror charges.
The developments have attracted widespread criticism from the region and Western countries.