The British government has lined up to support the Turkish state’s brutal assault on democratic rights.
As the regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week arrested opposition MPs, Tory foreign secretary Boris Johnson praised the regime.
“Turkey is critical for our security, for our struggle against terror and, of course, critical for managing the conflict in Syria,” he said.
He made vague noises about “serious concerns” over “the handling of media and politicians”. But the main message was clear—carry on with the crackdown.
This should come as no surprise. The British government last year stated that Turkey was a “priority market” for arms exports.
On Friday of last week the Turkish authorities detained 11 MPs from the pro-Kurdish and left wing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
Those seized include the party’s co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag.
The MPs were held on trumped-up terror charges. This is a major escalation of a clampdown that has seen Kurdish and left wing media outlets closed down and the joint mayors of Diyarbakir arrested.
The Turkish government has also announced plans to reintroduce the death penalty and ordered the arrests of the editor-in-chief and columnists of Cumhuriyet, one of Turkey’s oldest newspapers.
Access to social media sites Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp was blocked for hours in large parts of Turkey last Friday in order to make protest more difficult.
Dermirtas released a statement through his solicitor saying, “Those who think they can break our will with cheap conspiracies only confirm their own pitiful nature.
“No matter what the circumstances, we will continue our democratic and political struggle.”
Despite intense attacks from the state, the HDP received more than five million votes
Erdogan’s repressive regime has used July’s failed coup as an excuse to bear down on all forms of opposition. The HDP denounced the coup attempt but Erdogan thinks he can get away with the crackdown partly because other countries are so desperate to keep Turkey’s backing for their manoeuvres in Syria.
Despite intense attacks from the state, the HDP received more than five million votes—11 percent of the total—in November 2015. It is the third largest party in Turkey’s parliament.
Thousands of people joined an emergency rally called by supporters of the HDP and the Kurdish struggle in London last Saturday.
The demonstration was organised by Democratic Unity of Forces, made up of 17 British-based Kurdish and Turkish organisations.
The British-based Solidarity with the People of Turkey campaign said, “We are calling for an end to the state of emergency and for the release of all the arrested HDP MPs, as well as all opposition journalists, writers and academics arrested under the recent purge on opposition media outlets.”