Turkey’s pro-Kurdish HDP partially boycotts parliament after arrests

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition announced a partial boycott of parliament on Sunday, saying it was “halting its legislative efforts” after its leaders and other lawmakers were detained in a move which drew international condemnation.


The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the second-largest opposition grouping in Turkey’s parliament, said it would not fully withdraw, but its deputies would stop participating in sessions of the legislature or meetings of parliamentary commissions.

“After discussions with our parliamentary group and our central executive board, we have decided to halt our legislative efforts in light of everything that has happened,” party spokesman Ayhan Bilgen said in a statement read out in front of its offices in Diyarbakir and broadcast on the Internet.

HDP officials would consult with the party’s supporters, many of whom are in the largely Kurdish southeast, and could then consider a full withdrawal from parliament, he said.

Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, the HDP’s co-leaders, were jailed pending trial as part of a terrorism investigation on Friday.

Ten other HDP lawmakers were also detained, although some were later released.

The United States (US) expressed deep concern, while Germany and Denmark summoned Turkish diplomats over the Kurdish detentions. European Parliament President Martin Schulz said the actions “call into question the basis for the sustainable relationship between the EU and Turkey”.

President Tayyip Erdogan and the ruling AK Party accuse the HDP of links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, which has waged a three-decade insurgency for Kurdish autonomy against the Turkish state and is considered a terrorist organisation by the European Union (EU) and US.

The HDP, which made history last year by becoming the first Kurdish party to win 10 percent of the vote and enter parliament, denies direct links and says it is working for a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish conflict.

The government has vowed to pursue its campaign against all organisations it considers terrorists, including the PKK and its allies.

“The more we continue our fight, the more we see them squealing. No matter what they say, this battle will continue until our red crescent and starred flag waves across every province,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Sunday.

“Let all of their supporters know this, inside and outside Turkey,” he said in a speech broadcast on television.

Turkey’s EU Minister Omer Celik has called European ambassadors to a meeting in Ankara on Monday to brief them on the latest developments, a statement from his ministry said.