Turkey: Arrest of Parliamentarians Accelerates Descent into Dictatorship

Freedom House

WASHINGTON – In response to the mass detention of leaders and Members of Parliament of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“The decision to arrest the leaders of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, the third largest party in parliament, shows that there are no limits to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s drive to consolidate all power under his presidency,” said Robert Herman, vice president for international programs. “These arbitrary detentions will lead to greater violence in Turkey and threaten the fight against the Islamic State in Syria.”

In the early morning hours of November 4, police in Turkey took into custody 11 members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), including its co-leaders Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ. Authorities also interfered with Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp to slow communication in and from Turkey. The HDP supports greater rights for Turkey’s ethnic minorities and increased autonomy for the majority-Kurdish southeast of the country. It is closely tied to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Syrian affiliate, the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Several of the MPs arrested last night were previously involved in peace talks between the government and the PKK, talks that collapsed in March 2015.

Turkey is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2016, Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2015, and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2016.

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.