Lawmakers Concerned Over Turkey Arrests

Seyyed Hossein Naqavi Hosseini
Seyyed Hossein Naqavi Hosseini

The new wave of arrests in Turkey has caused concern among Iranian parliamentarians who believe heightened tensions in the neighboring country will lead to negative consequences for Tehran.

On Friday, Turkish authorities arrested Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, the co-leaders of the country’s pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, also known as the HDP, along with nine other lawmakers.

The HDP leaders and lawmakers face allegations of supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in its deadly insurgency in southeastern Turkey.

Thirteen staff members of Cumhuriyet news paper, including some of the most prominent names in Turkish journalism, were also detained on October 31. The arrested journalists face charges of having links to the PKK and Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric accused by Ankara of orchestrating the abortive coup of July 15.

Seyyed Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, a member of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said Tehran favors calm and stability in Turkey, with which it has wide-ranging relations in economic and other domains.

“Iran expects the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan not to act hastily and consider the rights of the nation in its measures,” he told ICANA on Sunday.

Hosseini said Iran understands Ankara’s security concerns, as Turkish people have witnessed various terrorist attacks claimed by the self-styled Islamic State and other terrorist groups in recent months, but the fight against terrorism should not target a wide range of groups inside the society.

“The government should adequately deal with terrorist groups that threaten Turkey’s security, but if people from different walks of life are affected and many people are [removed from their jobs], then things will get difficult for the government,” he said.

The arrests marked an escalation in the government’s months-long crackdown that put many behind bars or suspended them from work over allegations of being linked to the PKK or Gulen.

The Turkish journalists’ association says some 170 newspapers, magazines, TV stations and news agencies have been closed since July, with critics of the Turkish president describing the crackdown as an attempt to quash all legitimate opposition.

In addition to journalists, more than 110,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants have been detained or suspended in the post-coup crackdown.

  Questions for Public

Alireza Rahimi, a reformist member of the parliamentary panel, described the recent arrests as “unnatural”.

“Mass arrests, when several months have passed since the coup, are unnatural and raise questions for the public,” he said.

Rahimi said Iran deems the recent coup as an internal issue of Turkey, but expects Erdogan to “respect the freedom [of people] under the constitution, and international conventions on human rights.”

The new detentions are expected to spark unprecedented criticism from Turkey’s allies in the West. Officials in the European Union and the United States have already expressed concerns over the arrest of the pro-Kurdish lawmakers.

On Saturday, police in the Turkish city of Istanbul used tear gas and water cannon to disperse hundreds of people protesting against the arrest of HDP lawmakers.


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