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From The Socialist newspaper, 9 November 2016

Turkey: Erdogan tightens repressive screw

Protesters in London march against Erdogan's latest clampdown, 5.11.16, photo by Cédric Gérome

Protesters in London march against Erdogan's latest clampdown, 5.11.16, photo by Cédric Gérome   (Click to enlarge)

Sosyalist Alternatif (CWI Turkey)

During the night of 3 November the homes of several leaders and members of parliament of the left-wing and pro-Kurdish party, HDP (People's Democratic Party), were raided by Turkish police. The two co-chairs of the party, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, along with at least nine members of parliament, were arrested and taken into custody.

The party's headquarters in Ankara was also violently raided. These raids were coupled with the usual state method of shutting down social media - obvious attempts to stop people's angry reactions from spreading. This follows the earlier detention of the two HDP co-mayors of the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir.

Over the last few months, democratically elected Kurdish mayors have been arbitrarily discharged by the government and replaced by appointed administrators. All this is taking place under the cover of the struggle against 'terrorism', a label used at the regime's convenience to silence any opposition voice.

These arrests mark a new stage in the repression taking place in Turkey against anyone that stands in the way of President Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling party, the AKP, strengthening their grip on power.

The HDP is in the line of fire as it is the main opposition force in the country that has not aligned itself with the so-called 'national consensus' following the attempted military coup of 15 July. The HDP is seen by Erdogan as the main political obstacle on the road to securing the necessary conditions to establish a presidential dictatorship.

Sweeping counter-coup

After this summer's failed coup, a sweeping counter-coup has taken place, with attacks on democratic rights in the country being stepped up dramatically. All voices of genuine opposition are being targeted; many academics, journalists and political activists were arrested, 110,000 teachers and civil servants lost their jobs, and 170 media outlets were arbitrarily shut down.

On 5 November the editor and several staff members of Cumhuriyet, one of Turkey's main opposition newspapers, were detained and charged with links to 'Kurdish terrorists' and to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who the regime accuses of plotting July's coup attempt. Over 1,000 people who attempted to march to the newspaper's offices to protest the arrests were attacked by police.

At the same time war is escalated to enhance Erdogan's prestige and regional ambitions. This heightens the risk of more bloodshed and insecurity for all the people of Turkey, Kurdistan and the region at large.

Sosyalist Alternatif, and the whole CWI, condemns these new arrests and demands the immediate release of all HDP representatives.

We support grassroots mass mobilisation and protests and to not fall into the trap of responding to the state's provocations by individual actions of violence. Such acts undermine the building of an effective movement of united opposition to Erdogan's rule.

More than ever, what is needed is working people's unity and solidarity against repression, terror and war. The workers' and student movement and the rest of the left, on both sides of the ethnic divide, need to come together to discuss an urgent response to the Turkish state's onslaught.

Mass demonstrations and strikes should be organised across the country, assisted by actions of international solidarity, to build a sustained struggle capable of challenging Erdogan's policies.

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