Crowd of around 5,000 people attack HDP building in Central Anatolian province

Crowd of around 5,000 people attack HDP building in Central Anatolian province

AKSARAY – Doğan News Agency
Crowd of around 5,000 people attack HDP building in Central Anatolian province

Around 5,000 people marched on the HDP's building in Aksaray on March 5, sparking clashes with police.

A large crowd has attacked the local headquarters of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in the Central Anatolian province of Aksaray following a rally attended by party co-chair Sebahat Tuncel on March 5.

Around 5,000 people marched to the party’s building after the end of a rally that was part of the HDP’s local election campaign.

Clashes erupted as police resorted to tear gas to disperse the group from the entrance to the building.

Reinforcements from the gendarmerie were deployed near the governor’s office where the group intended to gather after the police intervention. Some 38 people sustained injuries during the incidents, while 40 people were detained overnight. One of the party’s buses was also damaged by the crowd.

The HDP was formed last October as an umbrella party, encompassing the predominantly Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and a number of leftist parties ahead of the March 30 local elections. Three prominent BDP lawmakers – Ertuğrul Kürkçü, Sırrı Süreyya Önder and Sebahat Tuncel – joined the party after it was founded last October. Kürkçü and Tuncel were elected as co-chairs while Önder, who was the first lawmaker to speak out in support of the Gezi protests, is nominated as the party’s co-candidate for the Istanbul mayoralty along with leftist singer Pınar Aydınlar.

“A group had gathered to protest the opening of the HDP’s provincial headquarters. They resisted and did not disperse despite warnings,” said Aksaray Gov. Şeref Ataklı, indicating that a smaller group remained for several hours in front of the HDP building.

Many people in the group were seen making nationalist signs. The governor’s office increased security measures near the party’s headquarters as more riot police were called in from neighboring provinces.

'Police collaborated with attackers

A statement from the party accused police of failing to provide for their safety. “This time, police collaborated with the attackers. The [police] did not take the necessary measures, and they surrounded our province office while allowing the assailants to approach our bus,” it said in a March 5 statement.

“We are warning the [Justice and Development Party] AKP government and the Interior Ministry one more time: It is the responsibility of the government to prevent these kinds of attacks – which we have no doubt are being conducted with the aim of drawing the HDP into clashes – and provide security for [our] electoral activities,” it said. “If it fails to do so, the HDP will provide for its own security.”

A campaign on Twitter was launched to condemn the attack under the hashtag “We are all Kurdish, we are all for HDP.”

HDP officials have reported attacks against them in several localities.

Two weeks ago, a local campaign office was also attacked by a crowd chanting nationalist slogans in İzmir’s Urla district, triggering criticism from the party over the lack of necessary security measures.