Crackdown continues on outlawed group despite opposing voices
ANKARA - Doğan News Agency
DHA PhotoThe government’s heavy-handed crackdown on the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) continued today with security officials targeting over 20 locations while union figures and opposition members decried the raids.
As a result of raids that hit 21 locations in Ankara, including the offices of the Liman-İş (Port Employment) and Genel-İş (General Workers) unions, 10 people in total were detained. Security officers on the ground were backed by aerial support, with a counterterrorism unit helicopter landing on the grounds of a nearby high school.
A large number of documents were confiscated, according to reports. Security forces were also positioned at entry and exit points around city limits to prevent organization members from fleeing. Border gates to Syria and Greece were also guarded by officers to stop any DHKP/C members from crossing. During the raid 400 policemen were on duty, including bomb experts and special team units.
In previous operations 14 members had been detained in Greece and the group’s activities in Greece were thought to be coming to an end, Doğan news agency reported.
Police are continuing to search for M.K., 35, M.K., 32, and Hasan Biber, 55, the three chief suspects in the two attacks against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) headquarters and the Justice Ministry in Ankara on March 18. Biber is the former head of the Liman-İş union.
The outlawed group claimed responsibility for the Feb. 1 suicide attack targeting the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, which killed one person, as well as the attacker, Ecevit Şanlı. Security forces have been intensifying raids on locations linked to the organization since the bombing.
The Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK) and Genel-İş head Erol Ekici harshly criticized the raids, calling them “attempts to discredit” the unions.
“No power can make us back down from our fight for democracy,” Ekici told members of the press. “What is being conducted here is an operation to discredit us; however, it will take us even higher in the eyes of our public.”
Ekici said the government was waging a war against every opposing figure.
“If this is advanced democracy, then down with it,” Ekici added.
Liman-İş also released a statement following the raids, calling the operation unlawful.
Hasan Biber had been the head of the union from 1992 to 1999, the statement read, adding that it was “impossible for the Ankara police not to know that he was no longer linked to [the union]” with official records of Biber and all other union heads present in Ankara police records.
“If the real motive behind the raids was to gain information on our former head Biber, they should have applied first to our union directors. Then the doors would have been opened to them without the need to break them down, and all assistance would have been provided to them in order to give them what they wanted,” the statement said.
The raids at the union building resulted in no detainments or confiscation of documents or computers, the union statement added, claiming that a document regarding the operation was signed by the union heads afterwards, before they were refused a copy.
“To raid the unions as if they were criminal organizations is part of the recent games played with unions in the country,” the statement said. “We condemn all kinds of violence, as well as the unlawful raids against our union.”
Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chair Sezgin Tanrıkulu also called the operations unlawful as well as reckless, Anatolia news agency reported.
Tanrıkulu released a statement that mentioned his previous years of working as a lawyer for Genel-İş, and accused the operations of attempting to eliminate the union and its fight for democracy.
“The search method of today is completely reckless, and unlawful,” he said. “All the doors were broken, no documents were confiscated and no computers were checked. The people they search for have nothing to do with this union. [The targets] are not the heads of the union or members. They are trying to discredit this union in the fight for democracy. I strongly condemn this operation and its method.”
The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) also released a statement targeting the morning’s operations, accusing the government of eliminating all opposition.
“The AKP government wishes to destroy all sounds of opposition and all forms of organization,” the statement read. “These attacks that are taking place are not compatible with hopes of democratization and of peace and a solution to the Kurdish issue. We protest these attacks and request the release of all that are detained.”