Ayhan Bilgen (left) and Meral Danis Bestas were imprisoned recently

01/02/2017 - 23:45 0
Arrests of lawmakers Bestas and Bilgen a clear sign of further persecution in Turkey: HDP

Hisyar Ozsoy, Deputy Co-chair of HDP Responsible for Foreign Affairs released a statement regarding the arrest of HDP Spokesperson Ayhan Bilgen and MP Meral Danis Bestas, and the release of HDP’s parliamentary group deputy co-chair Idris Baluken.

On 30 January 2017, Idris Baluken, deputy co-chair of HDP’s parliamentary group, was released at the first hearing of his case in Diyarbakir. Baluken had been in Kandira F-Type prison since 4 November 2016. The court justified its release decision by pointing out that the evidence for the case had been gathered so there could be no tampering, that Baluken was a parliamentarian and that there were example cases of the Constitutional Court regarding previously arrested deputies in the context of KCK and Ergenekon cases.

HDP pointed out that Baluken's could be a leading case for imprisoned HDP MPs, saying: “Yet, there were other developments on the same day that undermined our optimism for the release of other HDP MPs in the near future.”

The statement continued, "On January 27, Meral Danis Bestas and on 29 January Ayhan Bilgen, spokesperson of HDP, had also been detained and then released with judicial control. However, upon the objection of the prosecutor, the court issued arrest warrants for both MPs on January 30, right after the release of Baluken. Bestas and Bilgen were arrested and sent to prison on 31 January. Thus, the number of arrested HDP deputies has gone up to twelve, again.

"The only charge against Bestas and Bilgen is based on the HDP’s official twitter account’s post on 6 October 2014 that calls upon people to protest ISIS attacks on the Kurdish town of Kobane in Syria. The content of the social media post is as follows: “Everywhere is Kobane from now on. We call for incessant resistance until the siege in Kobane and the brutal aggression ends. All international institutions, NGOs, labor, women and youth organisations must act against the atrocity in Kobane.

"The statement by HDP said: "Obviously, this social media post does not involve any aspect inciting people to violence. During the protests the police used extreme violence, over 50 people were killed between 6-8 of October 2014, the overwhelming majority of whom were members or sympathisers of the HDP. It is crucial to highlight that after the protests, Mr Idris Baluken, deputy chair of HDP parliamentary group, tabled a resolution for the formation of a parliamentary commission to investigate the murder of protestors, but the majority AKP and MHP deputies rejected this resolution.

The HDP’s call to protest the siege of Kobane has been raised as a charge against all members of the HDP Central Executive Board (CEB) of that time. While some of the former CEB members were released after their testimonies at prosecutors’ offices, others like Bilgen and Bestas were arrested and sent to prison. This clearly shows the arbitrary and political nature of the court’s decision," the HDP said.

The left-wing pro minority-rights HDP said that Mr Bilgen and Ms Bestas's arrests on the day Mr. Baluken was released could be viewed as a political design of the AKP-Erdogan government to maintain and consolidate its support from ultranationalist groups in the lead-up to the referendum.

"Or, multiple groups within the state apparatus are trying to settle their scores using the HDP as a battleground. That is, different sectors within the state apparatus may diverge over what to do with HDP and its MPs in the referendum process and the arrest of Mr Bilgen and Ms Bestas may well be retaliation for Mr Baluken’s release. We should also remember that on the day Ms Leyla Birlik, MP for Sirnak, was released after two months of imprisonment (on 4 January 2017), nine of HDP’s Istanbul administrators, including the two co-chairs Mr Dogan Erbas ve Ms Aysel Guzel, were arrested and sent to prison."

The statement ended by saying that Idris Baluken's release was not the harbinger of a possible normalisation in Turkey’s politics in the eve of the referendum. "We see the arrests of Mr Bilgen and Ms Bestas as a clear sign of further persecution of HDP deputies, administrators and members as we get closer to the referendum date," the HDP said.

Source: ANF