The head of Turkey’s People’s Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, stated this week that his Kurdish-friendly party had experienced more than 400 attacks by Islamists and Turkish nationalists in the last two days.
The largest attack on the HDP occurred in the nation’s capital, Ankara, where a crowd of an estimated hundreds gathered in front of the headquarters and set part of the building on fire, according to reports. While the building remained standing and riot police eventually subdued the crowd, other attacks on HDP buildings were more successful. In one attack on their offices in Alanya, the building was set on fire, according to CNN Türk, as a crowd of 2,000 surrounded the area and kept party officials out. “Our headquarters in [sic] under attack but the police is not performing its duties,” an HDP representative tweeted.
Photos from across Turkey surfaced on Twitter, showing the devastation of the attacks. In one instance, not only are police visibly seen not helping subdue the crowd, but a reporter caught an officer helping a protester vandalize the sign in front of an HDP office.
— Press TV (@PressTV) September 9, 2015
— Hurriyet Daily News (@HDNER) September 9, 2015
— Mutlu Civiroglu (@mutludc) September 8, 2015
The HDP has not released an estimate of the property damage done to its offices across the country, though Turkish newspaper Zaman reports that 128 HDP-related buildings were attacked in total. HDP head Demirtaş claimed in his most recent statements that the number of attacks on offices, as well as HDP-related individuals, tops 400. “Everybody has the democratic right to protest our party. We will pay attention to criticisms and try to understand them,” he said, but those committing crimes will pay. He also condemned the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for sending the message that “if you do not give us 400 deputies [in the November election], you will pay the price.”
The current wave of violence, which has also affected newspapers covering the tensions between the AKP and the Marxist terror group the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), began following a PKK attack on Sunday that killed 16 Turkish soldiers, the deadliest attack since Turkey reignited violence with the PKK as part of its airstrike campaign allegedly against the Islamic State, a sworn enemy of the PKK. The HDP has long been accused of cooperating with the PKK due to its ties to Turkey’s Kurdish community, though the party has denied such ties. The accusations did not prevent the HDP from making the biggest gains in this summer’s parliamentary elections, however, denying Erdogan and the AKP their desired supermajority in the legislature. The AKP remains the majority party, but has failed to create a ruling coalition and appears to be preparing for a second round of elections.
In response to the attack on Sunday, the Turkish government has begun a large military operation in Iraq, attacking PKK strongholds. State media reports that an estimated 100 PKK terrorists have been killed so far.
The United States has expressed “concern” over the growing nationalist/pro-AKP attacks in Turkey.