Coming just weeks after local elections saw the DTP trounce the ruling AK Party in southeastern provinces, Turkish authorities conducted a massive operation in which they rounded up dozens of members of the DTP.
Police arrested some 50 people across 13 provinces in a simultaneous sweep of offices, homes, and municipality guest houses, which will surely lead to more polarisation across the country.
Those arrested included DTP vice chair Kamuran Yüksek, DTP vice chair Bayram Altun, DTP vice chair Selma Irmak, PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan’s lawyers Seracettin Irmak, Ebru Günay and Şinasi Tur, and Batman municipality building director Heval Erdemli.
Security forces also raided the private Kurdish Gün TV channel in Diyarbakır. A search warrant related to channel director Ahmet Birsin led to materials being confiscated from the TV station.
This was a two-pronged attack on the DTP and Kurdish broadcasting as well. The AKP, sinking in popularity, seems now desperate to rid itself of the political opposition. TRT6 did not work. In fact, Kurdish pop star Rojin has resigned as host of the popular ‘Rojinname’ complaining that ‘no guest she suggested was accepted by the producers, that many things she said were edited out before the show went on the air and that there was too much meddling into the show’s content.’
This, the raid on Gün TV, and Ankara’s current efforts to force ROJ-TV to close, show the Turkish state’s unwillingness to allow freedom of (Kurdish) speech in the country. Any access to uncontrolled Kurdish broadcasting is intolerable and the state will do whatever it can to stop it.
By arresting the DTP members, authorities are attempting to link them (as it has tried with ROJ-TV) to the PKK, and weaken, if not kill, the party. Do they really believe that in this day and age of new media they can still accomplish this without anyone seeing the true motives? Apparently so.
Çakir, Bawer. Operation Targeting the DTP: 40 People Detained. BİA News Center – Diyarbakır, 14 April 2009
Jones, Dorian. Turkey Arrests Dozens of Members of Pro-Kurdish Party, DTP. VOA News, Istanbul, 14 April 2009.
Kurdish pop star Rojin parts ways with state broadcaster TRT 6, Today’s Zaman, 15 April 2009.