July 28, 2021

In Turkey, the pro-Kurdish HDP party denounces the assassination of one of its activists in Izmir

An armed man attacked Thursday, June 17 a office of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP, Prokurdian left) in Izmir in western Turkey, killing a young activist. Deniz Poyraz, in her thirties, an HDP activist, worked as a volunteer in the party’s premises in Izmir where she served tea.

Thursday morning, she was the only person present on the spot when three attackers stormed the permanence of the room, where a meeting was to be held between militants. Two of the attackers managed to escape. The third, Onur Gencer, shot and killed the young woman after which he tried to set the premises on fire.

Arrested by the police, the man justified his act by his “Detestation of the PKK”, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the bête noire of the Turkish authorities for almost forty years. The second largest opposition party in the Turkish parliament, the HDP is accused of being a threat to national security as well as “Political showcase” of the PKK by the government, which is trying to have it banned for “Terrorist activities”.

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While six to seven million people vote in favor of the HDP in each election, its deputies, mayors and activists are regularly arrested, tried and imprisoned. Its leader, Selahattin Demirtas, has been in prison since 2016 despite requests for release from Ankara by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which considers his detention illegal.

Violently targeted by the ruling national-Islamist coalition, the HDP is faced with hate speech from the most senior politicians. Every year, all over the country, its premises are attacked, ransacked, set on fire, and its activists are beaten up, in general indifference. “Our office has been targeted for months, we reported it to the police, we said it would end badly but no protective measures were taken. Unfortunately our fears turned out to be true ”, Mahfuz Güleryüz, member of the central committee of the HDP, explained to the press.

“This attack was predictable”

In fact, the police had established, about a month ago, a security cordon around the building where the HDP premises are located in Izmir. Officially, it was not a question of protecting the Prokurd militants but of preventing them from “Recruit volunteers to serve the PKK guerrillas in the mountains”, according to the authorities’ argument. This police presence did not prevent the attackers from entering the building.

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