Internet access in Diyarbakir has been shut down, Kurdish leaders arrested or jailed, and Kurdish TV is shut down, even the children’s Tom and Jerry cartoon series is too much for Erdogan.
The Turkish Lira is in a freefall and Erdogan warns people about hoarding money.
For the past two weeks Diyarbakir, the unofficial capital of Turkey’s 15m Kurdish citizens, has been a city under siege.
Its mayor, Gultan Kisanak, one of the country’s best-known Kurdish politicians, was jailed. City Hall was cordoned off. Armed riot police roamed the streets under the shadow of hulking water cannons, the whiff of pepper spray in the air.
The internet was cut off, isolating the largest city in the Kurdish south-east from the rest of the world. Rubbish piled up as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan flew in a trustee from Ankara to take over the administration of a city that has long rejected his authority.
Desperate as this situation was for the city’s residents, it turns out that it was all a preamble to Mr Erdogan’s most audacious move yet. Early on Friday Turkish police in the city detained the country’s most powerful Kurdish politician, Selahattin Demirtas, while the co-chair of his People’s Democratic party, Figen Yuksekdag, was held in Ankara, intensifying a months-long assault on Kurdish politicians, media and intellectuals.
Nine more MPs from the People’s Democratic party, or HDP, have been detained with detention orders issued for another three, according to the interior ministry. Prosecutors accuse all of them of various degrees of support for the Kurdistan Worker’s party, or PKK, considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the EU and the US. All deny the charges and are being held because they refused to meet prosecutors, according to the government.
Mr Erdogan has been building up to this moment for months, if not years. In May, he stripped 50 of the 59 HDP MPs of their parliamentary immunity, unleashing prosecutors who scoured their speeches for evidence of sympathies for the PKK. Mr Demirtas himself was named in 102 lawsuits, potentially facing a cumulative sentence of more than 500 years.
Then, after assuming emergency powers after a failed coup in mid-July, Mr Erdogan issued decrees that shut down dozens of Kurdish language newspapers and news channels, and jailed Kurdish intellectuals and writers. A Kurdish-language cartoon channel was shut down in the middle of a broadcast of Tom and Jerry, its offices sealed after it was deemed a threat to national security.
As the government swooped on the HDP leadership last night, it cut off nationwide access WhatsAppapp, Twitter, Facebook aYouTubeube. Mr Demirtas told the FT in an interview in September that he was hoping to trigger mass protests by courting arrest. But the internet shutdown and mass arrests will make this more difficult.
The day before the arrests, Feleknas Uca, an ex-member of the European Parliament from Germany and an MP in Turkey, her right arm in a sling from a struggle with security forces, glared at the police through a shop-glass window, and described how hundreds of police evicted her from municipal offices the night before. She too is being is being investigated by a prosecutor for alleged ties to the PKK, a charge she denies. “Now in Turkey, it doesn’t matter if you are Turkish or Kurdish — if you don’t accept the polices of Erdogan, then you are a terrorist,” she said.
Turkish Courts Send Kurdish Leaders to Prison
Turkish courts ordered the arrest of the country’s most popular Kurdish leaders, sending Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksedag to prison after they were detained in late-night police operations, according to the semi-official Anadolu News Agency, which published the decision before it was announced in court.
The lira, which had already hit historic lows earlier today, plunged as low as 3.1613, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continued a months-long assault on Kurdish politicians, news media and intellectuals.
Mr Erdogan didn’t mention the arrests in a public address to a group of investors, extolling instead the virtues of Turkey’s infrastructure projects. He finished with a warning to banks and foreign investors who have cut down lending and investment as the country enters a period of political instability.
“Just as it is a mistake to keep the money under-the-mattress, it is that much a mistake for the financial sector to keep the money inside the vaults and not release it to the market,” he said, according to a transcript of his speech.
Turkish Lira vs. US Dollar
Angela Merkel is in bed with Erdogan as a matter of political expediency regarding EU refugee policy.
Yes, it’s crazy.
After taking over the courts, the newspapers, and getting rid of all opposition, Erdogan is the effective dictator of Turkey.
“If you don’t accept the polices of Erdogan, then you are a terrorist.”
Mike “Mish” Shedlock