The anti-government demonstrations in Hopa in north-eastern Turkey are still creating a stir in several parts of the country. 19 people were taken into custody in Ankara, 26 people were interrogated in Antakya. The police try to find connections between the protestors and illegal organizations.
The aftermath of the incidents in Hopa has not finished yet. Operations in several provinces against members of the Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP), the Community Centres organization and various other non-governmental organizations and political parties were still being continued on Thursday (16 June).
Most recently, 19 people were taken into police custody in Ankara. Hence, the number of people taken into custody in Ankara in relation to the protest in Hopa rose to 56, 32 of whom were released after having been interrogated. Five persons were arrested and brought to prison. The 19 people taken into custody on Thursday were still interrogated in the evening.
ÖDP Party Assembly Member Ozan Süer and ÖDP Deputy Chair Önder İşleyen are among the people in custody. In his absence, İşleyen’s home was raided by the police on Thursday morning (16 June). They entered the house with the help of a locksmith and seized his computer and various books and publications.
Initially, 31 people were taken into custody in the course of a massive police intervention against anti-government demonstrations in Hopa on 31 May. 16 of them were imprisoned under allegations of “opposing the law on meetings and demonstrations”, “resistance against the police” and “harming public property”.
Right after the parliamentary elections, in the evening of 12 June, the President of the Community Centres organization in Artvin (north-east), Ferdi Şağbanoğlu, was arrested and taken to prison. After that, 22 ÖDP members were interrogated because they allegedly attended the 1 May celebrations in the nearby city of Rize and supposedly shouted illegal slogans.
On Wednesday (15 June), a wave of arrests started in Ankara. A total of 17 people were taken into police custody in the course of operations against protestors who demonstrated because of the death of retired teacher Metin Lokumcu on 31 May. Lokumcu died of a heart attack as the result of teargas extensively used by the police in Hopa to disperse the crowd of the anti-government demonstration.
After the raid on the home of ÖDP Deputy Chair İşleyen, ÖDP Party Assembly Member Süer was stopped on his way to work by police officers of the Anti-Terror Branch and taken into custody.
Bianet talked to lawyer Suna Coşkun, member of the ÖDP Central Steering Board. She said that a total of 19 people were taken into police custody on Wednesday and Thursday. They were interrogated at the Anti-Terror Branch. The prosecution reportedly decided for an additional four-day period in custody for these people.
At the same time, 26 people in Antakya were taken into custody. The reason is again their alleged attendance of protests against the incidents in Hopa. These people were still being interrogated on Thursday afternoon.
Trying to create illegal organizations
According to the President of the Human Rights Association (İHD), Öztürk Türkdoğan, the people taken into custody during demonstrations in several provinces against the incidents in Hopa are alleged of a breach of Law No. 2911 on Meetings and Demonstrations. Türkdoğan remarked that these people are tried to be affiliated to illegal organizations upon the order of the government.
In Türkdoğan’s opinion, the left opposition in Turkey is going to encounter more pressure in the future. He reminded that many people were beaten and taken into custody during the protests in Ankara against the incidents in Hopa.
The İHD President continued, “The demonstrators were alleged of opposing Law No. 2911. Usually, the Security Branch is taking care of this sort of investigations. But with the incidents in Hopa and upon the announcement of the prime minister, the police transferred the issue to the Anti-Terror Branch immediately”.
“The usual place for an investigation about demonstrators is the prosecution and the Security Branch. But the government gives an order and says ‘there is an illegal organization involved’. Furthermore, they are trying to create an illegal organization out of the blue. At this point, both the prosecution and the police unit related to the investigation change”, the human rights advocator explained.
Türkdoğan claimed that the people were eventually arrested under allegations of opposing the law on meetings and demonstrations once an illegal organization could not be found.
Government and judiciary entwined
President of the Human Rights Association (İHD), Türkdoğan criticized the arbitrary application of Art. 220 of the Turkish Criminal Law (TCK). He expressed his astonishment about the prosecution’s and the police’s attempt to affiliate members of the ÖDP, the Turkish Communist Party (TKP) and organizations like the Community Centres with illegal organizations like the clandestine Maoist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) and the Turkish Workers’ Peasants’ Liberation Army (TİKKO).
“It was the same process with the ‘Revolutionary Headquarters’. This shows how much the relations between the government and the judiciary are entwined”, Türkdoğan indicated.
Opposition considered as the enemy
He continued, “They want to eliminate left-wing groups considered as opposition by affiliating them with illegality. The non-governmental organizations function as the social opposition in a country. If you start eliminating them, the country will become more and more authoritarian and we do not know where the whole issue is going to go. (…) People who want to do politics and who are considered as opposition are being seen as ‘enemies from within'”.
Ankara – BİA News Center
17 June 2011, Friday