Turkey expands crackdown on pro-Kurdish activists with dozens of raids


Nov 20, 2020

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s pledges for sweeping reforms seemed shakier Friday, as at the least 70 folks accused of hyperlinks to a Kurdish militant group have been arrested in raids throughout the nation. They included politicians, docs, legal professionals, journalists and civil society activists who have been picked up in daybreak raids in reference to an ongoing investigation launched towards the Democratic Society Congress (DTK). The group advocates larger rights for Turkey’s lengthy suppressed Kurds.

Warrants have been issued by the Diyarbakir prosecutor’s workplace for 101 suspects whose names have been seen in paperwork seized from DTK workplaces, “that’s the sum of the evidence against them,” stated Cihan Aydin, the president of the Diyarbakir Bar Association, in a press release.

“Yesterday talk of reform, today a new crackdown on Kurds,” tweeted Emma Sinclair-Webb, Turkey director for Human Rights Watch. 

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) joined within the requires the quick launch of all of the detainees. They embody 26 legal professionals. “Lawyers are often subject to bogus charges in Turkey to curb their work, including in defense of human rights and the exercise of their freedom of expression,” stated Roisin Pillay, director of the ICJ’s Europe and Central Asia Program. 

The arrests are seen as an extra manifestation of factional infighting in Erdogan’s ruling coalition, composed of his Justice and Development get together (AKP) and his casual coalition companion the Nationalist Action Party, led by veteran far-Right politician Devlet Bahceli. Tensions burst into full view following the shock resignation of Erdogan’s son in legislation and finance minister Berat Albayrak on Nov 8.

Erdogan and his justice minister have since vowed to introduce new reforms geared toward restoring investor confidence in Turkey’s battered economic system, reversing the AKP’s wilting ballot numbers and heading off potential sanctions from the West. This in flip has raised hopes that distinguished prisoners of conscience, similar to philanthropist Osman Kavala and Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas, will likely be freed, if solely as window dressing. 

“We are determined to bring about a new booming era for Turkey’s economy and democracy,” Erdogan stated in a speech on the EXPO 2020 commerce truthful in Istanbul Friday. “We are working on both strengthening our economic policies and raising the bar of democracy and freedoms while easing daily life for our citizens,” he added, hours after the arrests happened.

The first concrete signal of change got here on Nov. 19, when Erdogan allowed the Central Bank to ship its largest rate of interest hike in two years. The lira rallied immediately, recording a 2% acquire towards the greenback as traders cheered what’s seen as a return to orthodox financial coverage.

Erdogan is militantly against rates of interest, claiming that they gas inflation, whereas most economists maintain the alternative to be true. The true supply of his aversion is regarded as his Islamic religion and there may be each probability he could reverse course as soon as the lira stabilizes and inflation slows. He hinted as a lot in Friday’s remarks. “Interest is above all exploitation of the people by way of earning money from money,” Erdogan stated.

The shake up within the economic system group with a brand new Central Bank chief and economic system minister has met no resistance from Bahceli, whose patronage community stands to revenue from Albayrak’s exit.

But democratic reforms are a distinct matter and it took Turkey’s most infamous mobster, Alattin Cakici, to relay these views in a sequence of threatening letters focusing on important opposition chief Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Many imagine they have been in reality directed at Erdogan. The letters, which have been taken down by Twitter, included assaults on Kavala and Demirtas. Cakici known as them “traitors.” Bahceli in flip made clear he supported the mobster’s phrases when he declared that Cakici was a “true patriot” and a “comrade in my cause.” Faced with a barrage of protest, prosecutors have been shamed into launching a legal investigation towards Cakici.

More resistance to liberating Kavala and Demirtas got here from Bahceli’s press secretary, Yildiray Cicek, Friday. “May God damn the terrorists you were impressed by,” he wrote on Twitter. 

Cicek was responding to Bulent Arinc, a former deputy prime minister and member of the presidency’s High Advisory Council, who informed broadcaster Haberturk late Thursday that “I am shocked by the fact that [Kavala] is still detained. He needs to be released. When I read these indictments, I said even a child would not write this.” Arinc, a lawyer by coaching and a founding member of the AKP, additionally took goal at Demirtas’ continued detention.

Cicek known as Arinc’s reward of a guide authored by Demirtas “disgusting.”

“Are you being paid a commission,” he requested.

It stays unclear whether or not Arinc has Erdogan’s blessing for his dovish overtures. Some contend that by way of him Erdogan is searching for to check the waters and gage how his base would reply to reverting to his former reformist self, which noticed outreach to the Kurds, the defanging of the army and enhanced rights for girls, ensuing within the opening of now stalled membership talks with the European Union.

But others say he can’t danger crossing Bahceli. Should the nationalists withdraw their assist from their governing coalition, snap elections could show inevitable and up to date opinion polls recommend that Erdogan and the AKP may lose in any truthful contest. In 2002, Bahceli did simply that, he pulled the plug on the governing alliance between his get together and two others, prompting early elections and the rise of Erdogan and the AKP.