An early morning police raid of the branch offices of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority city of Cizre (Cizîr) on Monday was met with a strong reaction, not only by senior party officials, but also by party members who had decided to start a vigil to protect the offices against fresh raids.
During the raid, 10 party members were detained including the co-chair of the party branch.
Saruhan Oluç, the parliamentary deputy co-chair of HDP, showed images taken after the police raid and spoke at a press conference at the Turkish parliament:
“These are the images of our Cizre offices after the police raided them this morning. They smashed down the door, got inside, and tore down the place. They threw everything around. Do you realise what these images signify? These are the marks of barbarism and vandalism. They are the images of lawlessness.”
HDP members and supporters gathered in front of the HDP branch offices in Cizre in the evening in a solidarity action to sit together, protest, sing songs and guard the place against further police vandalism.
Cizre: A city of unyielding struggle
HDP received over 82% of the vote in Cizre in the last general elections in 2018.
The city of 130,000 still bears the marks of the destruction caused by the Turkish forces in 2015-16 in a disproportionate attack, to crush a group of Kurdish youth who had decided to defend the city in the face of a looming military operation after the ‘peace talks’ between the Turkish authorities and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was terminated by the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
According to Turkish army figures, 600 young Kurdish fighters were killed during the operations. While human rights groups put the civilian fatalities initially at 92, more than 170 bodies were found after the end of clashes. Dozens of political activists were killed in a single incident after they’d taken refuge in the basement of a building, when the building was hit with heavy weapons.
Cizre is also among one of the Kurdish cities where Newroz (New Day of the new year on the spring equinox) first began to be celebrated in a political context of an uprising for freedom. 57 civilians were killed in the Newroz of 1992 in a massacre by Turkish forces in the city.