The move signifies a political climate in which the government equates any criticism of its policies with terrorism and where incessant detentions and arrests have become a common practice to intimidating the democratic civil society and politics in Turkey. As the stronghold of the DTK and political center of the Kurdish region in Turkey, the city of Diyarbakir has been targeted by government repression.
Last month, on 22 May, the police violently raided several houses and detained 13 women and 5 men in Diyarbakir. This operation mainly targeted female Kurdish politicians and activists associated with the Rosa Women’s Association (RKD), the Free Women’s Movement (TJA), Democratic Regions Party (DBP), and the DTK.
In both of these waves of violent arrests, the majority of the detainees were women. The testimony of former HDP Mayor Sevil Rojbin Çetin on her brutal torture and detention demonstrates the use of police-trained dogs to attack her, and extreme verbal and physical abuse. The police tore her clothes and photographed her half-naked while her eyes were closed.
These waves of brutal arrest are part criminalization of the DTK, a process that has started a few years ago and has finally culminated in its unlawful closure. After the raid, the police shut down DTK headquarters, confiscated its properties, and sealed its gates without a court decision. The DTK was established as an umbrella organization with a pluralistic general assembly in 2007. It has been the largest and most diverse democratic platform in the Kurdish region, bringing together the women’s movement, many labor unions, civil society organizations, local councils, and others. Many leading figures and organizers from the DTK have been arrested, including its co-chair Leyla Güven and Presidential Council member Musa Farisoğulları, both HDP MPs.
These continuing detentions and arrests, including that of Mayor Sevil Rojbin Çetin, and the closure of the party are signs of the government’s desperation. As we get closer to the inevitable political battle with President Erdoğan and his allies, the HDP remains ever more committed to its continuous political struggle for a free, democratic, and peaceful future.