On 17 December 2016, a bomb attack killed 14, and wounded more than 50 unarmed Turkish soldiers in Kayseri. As in previous cases, the HDP condemned this attack in the strongest terms.
Yet, we believe that there is an urgent need to go beyond statements of condemnation and take urgent political initiative to stop militaristic policies that set the context in which many of our citizens are killed almost on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, the Erdoğan-AKP government is not willing to take political responsibility in this regard. Rather, it has been fueling up militarization, racist nationalism, sociopolitical polarization, and channeling the accumulated anger in the society towards the HDP. This is a politics of scapegoating in order to cover up its own responsibility in the current state of insecurity in the country.
Consequently, on December 17th and 18th, dozens of our party offices were attacked by pro-government and ultranationalist groups across the country.
Soon after the attack in Kayseri, pro-government and ultranationalist groups attacked our office in the city. While police and firemen dismantled the sign of our Party, these groups chanted, “Blood for Blood! Revenge! Revenge!” before partially burning the building, and upon its edifice, hanging a three-crescent flag, used mostly by Turkish ultranationalists. Along with HDP, buildings of EMEP (Labour Party) and DISK (Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey) were also attacked and damaged, while CHP (Republican People’s Party) members barely avoided being lynched by similar groups.
In Istanbul, our district offices in Beykoz, Bayrampaşa and Eyüp were stoned. In Bağcılar, assailants tried breaking into the office. According to the initial reports of our provincial party officials, assailants sabotaged our district office in Beylikdüzü and as a result of a fire, a gas cylinder exploded and caused a great damage to our office. Fortunately, no one was harmed.
In Erzincan, our party office was stoned and our sign was badly damaged. Mobs took office furniture from our district office in Yenimahalle, Ankara, and burnt them. Meanwhile in Çanakkale, a group of assailants stoned our building. When our party members reacted to these actions, the police on the scene responded by detaining two of our colleagues, disregarding the perpetrators. In Darıca, a district of Kocaeli, our party building was shot at 4-5 times by a vehicle without a plate.
Our office in Çukurova, a district of Adana, was severely damaged. Our office in Yıldırım, a district of Bursa, was also damaged and burned. Our office in Buca, a district of Izmir, was looted and our sign was dismantled. In Eskişehir, our party representatives Zelal Yardımcı and Emine Kaya were first attacked by a group, then detained by the police. In addition to the damage done by ultranationalist groups, the police arrested 22 party representatives in Kırşehir. A small group marched to our Ankara headquarters around midnight and chanted racist slogans. Later around 1.15 a.m. another small group came back and tried to burn our headquarters and the cars parked in the garage despite dozens of police officers on watch on both sides of the street. In addition to HDP offices, Kurdish students in dorms have also been attacked. Kurdish students had to leave their dorms for security reasons as mobs gathered around the dorms and roamed in the streets with cars to attack Kurds seemingly in retaliation for the bomb attack in Kayseri.
Similar attacks continued in 5 cities and 7 districts on the next day by similar perpetrators. Personal information regarding our provincial and district representatives was published on social media by racist and provocative accounts. The house of Hasan Ekici, a former representative of our party, was shot at several times. Later, he was detained along with two other HDP representatives. A police officer fell of a rooftop and died while he was responding to the mobs hanging a Turkish flag on our district office in Istanbul.
This is not the first time that our offices are being attacked. Between April and November 2015, hundreds of our offices, including our headquarters in Ankara, were attacked by racist mobs and many were burnt down. These attacks occurred before the eyes of the police and the Ministry of Interior, who did not take any measures to prevent the attacks or prosecute the perpetrators. Throughout these attacks, all our attempts to communicate with state and government officials went unanswered.
With each new bomb attack, such attacks on HDP properties, members and supporters have become commonplace in Turkey. Disconcertingly, the government has not even condemned the surging tide of violence targeting our party. Only one AKP MP and one minister wrote via twitter that attacks on the HDP had to be stopped. The HDP has become the scapegoat of Erdoğan-AKP regime’s failure to provide security for citizens and its abandonment of the peace process.
We invite the democratic international community to remind Turkish authorities of their obligations to act within the rule of law and stop the attacks on the HDP.
Deputy Co-chair of HDP Responsible for Foreign Affairs
Member of Parliament