Turkey's first Roma deputy slams police raids in Roma neighborhoods

Turkey's first Roma deputy slams police raids in Roma neighborhoods

Turkeys first Roma deputy slams police raids in Roma neighborhoods

AFP photo

A Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy has slammed a huge police operation in Roma neighborhoods of the town of Keşan in the northwestern province of Edirne, saying the raid aimed to “fuel ethnic discrimination” and “advertise the police forces in the media.” 

During the operation early on July 1, in which 45 locals were detained, around 200 riot police officers reportedly marched in the streets of Keşan, chanting “How happy is the one who says I’m a Turk” and “Police provide peace and security,” Doğan News Agency reported.

Özcan Purçu, a Roma-origin deputy who was elected from the CHP in the June 7 general election and marked a first, claimed on July 2 that Roma neighborhoods were being used as “training sites” by the police.

He said 45 people were detained in the operation and two of them were formally arrested for resisting the police. “There was a great discrepancy between the size of the operation and its [modest] results,” Purçu said, speaking at a press conference in the Turkish Parliament.

Condemning the operation, he also said he had repeatedly called the head of the Keşan Police Department but did not receive any response.

Some 45 people, including the Thrace Roma Associations Federation Head Fahrettin Savcı, were detained on July 1 in multiple police raids in neighborhoods mostly populated by Roma people in Keşan, upon claims of “brawling, looting activities, threatening, and resisting police,” Doğan News Agency reported.

Around 700 anti-riot police forces raided 50 locations in Keşan’s Yenimescit, Mustafa Kemal Paşa and Cumhuriyet neighborhoods. 

Two 17-year-old suspects, identified only by the initials B.A. and O.T., who were among the 45 detainees, were arrested and sent to the Edirne Closed Prison on July 2 on charges of “putting public security at risk” and “damaging property.” The other 43 detainees were released.