Opposition HDP starts ‘justice watch’ in Istanbul under tight security

Opposition HDP starts ‘justice watch’ in Istanbul under tight security

Opposition HDP starts ‘justice watch’ in Istanbul under tight security The opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has started its “conscience and justice watch” in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district with the participation of several lawmakers. 

The Kurdish issue-focused HDP started its watch on Aug. 1 in Kadıköy’s Yoğurtçu Park after spending a week in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır. 

Strict security measures were taken around the park, with police setting up barricades.

The authorities closed the area to traffic and a heavy police presence was seen inside and outside the park. Police are also on duty in pre-determined entrances to the park. 

Armored police vehicles and water cannons have been deployed to the area. 

HDP lawmakers Garo Paylan, Sırrı Süreyya Önder, Filiz Kerestecioğlu and Hüda Kaya, as well as representatives from non-governmental organizations, entered the park at around 12 p.m. 

Speaking before the watch was initiated, Önder said “watches will be spread” from the northwestern province of Edirne to the southeastern province of Hakkari. 

“These watches will bring together those seeking democracy and peace in Turkey. They cannot stop this,” Önder told journalists.

He added that lawmakers and municipality workers of the HDP had been “subjected to a destruction operation.” 

“Our elected municipal council members, provincial and district heads, co-chairs and lawmakers have been subjected to a massive destruction operation. However, they won’t be successful,” Önder said. 

HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, former co-chair and lawmaker Figen Yüksekdağ, and eight deputies from the party were arrested over alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), facing hundreds of years in jail. 

The first arrests were carried out on Nov. 4, 2016 and continued in the following months.

Meanwhile, HDP co-chair Serpil Kemalbay said on Aug. 1 that the party expects support from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) for the “justice watch.”

Kemalbay said the HDP supported the CHP during the latter’s “justice march,” and the main opposition “needs to support” the HDP’s initiative in return. 

“We hope this solidarity becomes stronger. All those carrying out a struggle for democracy need to show the same sort of support that we presented,” she added.