HDP1

Diyarbakir HDP Meeting 5th June 2015. Photo by Dogan Ucar.

The People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey has called for international solidarity and support to bring peace to the country, after many of its offices were set on fire by ultra-nationalist protestors.

The HDP is an alliance between environmentalists, trade-unionists and representatives of the country’s large Kurdish minority. They are part of a coalition with the Greens and the Left Party of the Future (in Turkish: Yeşiller ve Sol Gelecek, YSGP).  YSGP is a candidate to become an EGP member.

On Tuesday, the HDP’s offices in the country’s capital, Ankara, were set on fire by hundreds of Turkish nationalist protestors.

According to the party, police let the protestors set fire to the office, which had three people inside. These people escaped by climbing to the roof and into an adjacent building.

The protestors were eventually cleared and the fire put out but the building is heavily damaged and unavailable for use. The party says that its archives and records were specifically targeted.

The violence was not confined to Ankara, as over 128 party offices have been attacked or set on fire in recent months.

In a statement, the HDP blamed the governing AKP party and its supporters in the media for whipping up hatred of the HDP thus leading to the attacks on its offices, “carried out by people associated with racist and fascist groups”.

The protests which culminated in the attacks were organised after a bomb  killed 14 police officers. The bombing is widely suspected to have been conducted by the Kurdish militant group, the PKK. However, the HDP have repeatedly distanced themselves from the PKK and its violent methods and did so again in its call for international solidarity released on Thursday.

There has been a long-running and often violent conflict between the Turkish state and the Kurds, who represent between 10% and 30% of the country’s population, concentrated in the East. Many Kurds want their own state, together with the large Kurdish populations in Iraq and Syria.

In a statement released on Thursday, the HDP called for peace-talks and said that Turkey has been drifting into a civil war since the general election of June 7.

In this election, the HDP gained entry into parliament for the first time and President Erdogan was denied a majority, leading him to call fresh elections for November.

Observers have linked these elections to the President’s increasing interest in pursuing a war against the PKK/Kurds, saying that he is generating a conflict to increase his popularity.

The HDP’s statement claims that, instead of attacking ISIS as he claims to be, Erdogan is “attacking the Kurds, democratic forces, democratic politics, civilians, women and the opposition as a whole in Turkey”.

It concluded:

In spite of these adverse developments, we call on all international communities, civil society organizations and the international media for solidarity and support to bring about an immediate cease-fire and the commencement of peace talks. Our call is also one for urgent action against increasing state violence, the violation of human rights and anti-democratic practices and measures ins Kurdish cities as well as the cities in the western regions of the country. We now need the support of the international public more than ever in order to achieve the realization of a lasting peace in the Middle East, Turkey and Kurdistan. In this context we invite all of our friends, political parties, associations, networks, civil society organizations and all peace-loving forces to act in solidarity with us. We call on all democratic international institutions and forces to take concrete steps against the Turkish state’s violent, anti-democratic actions against its own people and citizens.

Joe Lo

About Joe Lo

Joe is a freelance journalist and a researcher at Campaign Against Arms Trade. His twitter is @joeloyo.