After police raids on Tuesday in which scores of journalists, lawyers, artists and human rights activists were arrested as part of an escalating crackdown on the pro-Kurdish opposition ahead of the coming crucial elections, protests have erupted in many cities across Turkey.
The arrests continued through Wednesday morning. Ayten Dönmez, a parliamentary candidate of the Green Left Party, was detained in Istanbul, and more detentions are expected since there are a total of 216 arrest warrants within the scope of the investigation, overseen by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, which triggered the police operations.
According to an official statement, 128 people were arrested on Tuesday as part of the operations, which span 20 provinces and are centred on the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakır (Amed). There were widespread protests where angry crowds gathered to protest against the operations and were faced with police blockades and further arrests.
Socialist activist Serhat Eren was beaten and detained by police during protests in Diyarbakır yesterday, but they repeatedly denied having arrested him despite footage clearly showing otherwise. His whereabouts was finally discovered in the evening through the efforts of the Diyarbakır Bar Association’s Commission for the Prevention of Torture, after eight hours in which there had been no information forthcoming about him at all.
Eren was able to meet with his lawyers after he was found at a police station where the police had denied they had him when asked during efforts to find him.
Someone else beaten and detained during the reading of a press statement in Diyarbakır was journalist Tümen Anlı, a press advisor for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
The police prevented the reading of a public statement at the Green Left Party election campaign stand in Kadıköy district in Istanbul, detaining 19 people.
Lawyers gathered outside courthouses in many cities and made press statements protesting against the mass arrests. Stating that the judiciary was increasingly politicised, the lawyers called for the immediate release of those arrested in the operations.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu thanked the country’s counter-terrorism department and the Diyarbakır Police Department, and he released a video, with musical backing, of a number of house arrests preceded by scenes of military parades and large numbers of armoured cars, heavily armed soldiers and police officers.
Soylu argued that the lawyers, artists, journalists and rights defenders detained in the footage, were advocates of and provided recruits to a terrorist organisation.