ANCA Issues Action Alert
ISTANBUL, WASHINGTON—After leaders of Turkey’s People’s Democratic Party (HDP) were rounded up and arrested early Friday, Garo Paylan, an Armenian member of the Turkish parliament from that party, issued a stark warning on his Twitter account saying that the events in Turkey were reminiscent of the April 24, 1915.
“We live in the year 1915, it’s April 24! Do not allow those fascists to burn our country, our youth again,” Paylan tweeted, after Turkish security forces arrested two HDP leaders and at least 13 lawmakers early on Friday over reluctance to give testimony for crimes linked to “terrorist propaganda.
”Turkish police raided the Ankara house of co-leader Selahattin Demirtas and the house of co-leader Figen Yuksekdag in Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast, the party’s lawyers told Reuters.
The Turkish Interior Ministry said detention orders for 13 members of parliament were issued, but only 11 were detained as two lawmakers were abroad.
Turkish police raided the Ankara house of co-leader Selahattin Demirtas and the house of co-leader Figen Yuksekdag in Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast, the party’s lawyers told Reuters.
“HDP call international community to react against Erdogan Regime’s coup,” the party said on Twitter, referring to President Tayyip Erdogan.
In a statement later on Friday, Demirtas criticized the processes leading up to and including arrests, saying that the Turkish government was “trampling on the dignity of the [Turkey’s] judicial system.
Saying that he and his colleagues were the elected representatives of the people, Demirtas addressed the judiciary by saying, “I will not be a puppet in this trumped-up judicial theater, which was started by the order of Erdoğan who has a really dishonest and questionable personal background. I won’t answer your questions. I don’t think that any legal procedure that will be carried out by you could be just and lawful. Even my detention is done illegally.”
“Thus, you, as prosecutors and judges who are supposed to stick to international and democratic maxims of law and to international conventions that are signed by Turkey and have the power of constitutional law, should refuse to be a part of political games and schemes. I don’t demand or expect anything from you. Only the people who elected me can question me about my political activities,” added Demirtas.
In the wake of this evening’s Turkish government crackdown on the pro-democracy HDP party, the Armenian National Committee of American initiated an action alert asking supporters to write letters urging the Secretary of State to act decisively against Erdogan’s attempt to silence the last remaining major pro-democracy voice left in Turkey.
“The United States must publicly and forcefully protest Turkey’s anti-democratic crackdown and demand the release of HDP officials illegally imprisoned by the Erdogan regime. We must break with the failed policies of appeasement that have, for far too long, misguided U.S. policy toward Turkey, allowing Ankara’s army of lobbyists to compromise both our country’s interests and our nation’s values,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
Deputy Secretary of State Tom Malinowski described the detentions as “deeply troubling,” according to a statement published on the official Twitter feed of the US Embassy in Ankara
“As a friend and ally, [we are] deeply troubled that the government of Turkey has detained HDP leaders and other MPs while blocking internet access. When taking legal action against elected reps, democracies have higher duty to justify actions and preserve confidence in justice. Press freedom and internet access [is] essential to democratic and economic health. [We] urge Turkey to restore information access to its citizens now,” said Malinowski.