Turkish Stocks Plunge, Lira Crashes To New Record Low As Erdogan Jails Opposition Leaders
As the post-coup crackdowns continue in Turkey, the lira has just crashed to a fresh record low of 3.16/$ as WaPo reports Turkish authorities arrested 12 parliamentarians belonging to a pro-Kurdish party on Friday, including its two leaders. The UN has condemned the move as “compromising parliamentary democracy” in US ally Turkey.
Capital takes flight as Erdogan’s tyranny grows…
The Washington Post reports the arrests took place in a series of overnight raids that signaled a sharp escalation of President Reçep Tayyip Erdogan’s confrontation with his political opponents and the country’s Kurdish minority.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party, or HDP, holds more than 10 percent of the seats in parliament and is the chambers’ third largest bloc. During an intensifying war between the government and Kurdish rebels in recent years, Turkish officials have accused the party’s leaders of ties to the militants — charges the party has repeatedly denied.
Authorities said Friday that the lawmakers were detained after failing to answer an official summons to testify in a counterterrorism investigation. Three lawmakers, including senior HDP leader Idris Baluken, were ordered formally arrested by a Turkish court pending trial, according to the semiofficial Anadolu news agency.
The arrests drew condemnations from the United Nations and European Union, which said the moves “compromise parliamentary democracy in Turkey.” In a statement Friday, HDP deputies called the detentions “the end of democracy in Turkey,” and said it was “a dark day” for both the party and the country.
The arrests were part of broad crackdown by Erdogan’s government on political opponents in the aftermath of a failed coup in July. The government has accused an exiled, U.S.-based, Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen, of directing the coup attempt, through his extensive network of supporters.
But in the months since the attempt, the authorities have used a sweeping emergency law to arrest tens of thousands of people, including many with seemingly no connection to the Gulen network, including journalists, teachers, university professors and leftist activists, in what human rights advocates have described as the most far-reaching purge of opponents in Turkey’s modern history.
Militants belonging to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, have stepped up attacks on Turkish security forces over the past year, after a peace deal fell apart in 2015 and reignited the decades-old conflict. That agreement had ended years of war between Kurdish rebels and the Turkish state, which has long clamped down on the Kurdish population. Ethnic Kurds make up nearly 20 percent of the country’s 75 million people.
With the arrests, the government “has gone from talking peace with the PKK leader, and PKK commanders in the field, to going after anyone who is remotely advocating greater rights for the Kurds,” said Amberin Zaman, a journalist who is currently a public policy scholar at the The Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.
“It is the same old notion — that Kurdish national aspirations can be crushed using military force,” she said.
Among those detained early Friday were Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, the co-leaders of the HDP. Demirtas, who is from Diyarbakir, sent a message through his lawyer in the early hours of the morning, assuring his supporters that he was in good health, the HDP said.
At a news conference in Istanbul Friday, HDP lawmakers were defiant, and accused Erdogan of attempting “to steer the country into a civil war.”
“Maybe in a few hours, none of us will be left,” HDP deputy, Mihtat Sancar, said at the news conference, in reference to the speed and scale of the arrests.
And investors are dumping Turkish stocks back to post-Coup levels…
No comments from Turkish ally and democracy-fighter USA, but Europe is already chiming in…
“We can’t reach any other conclusion than that at this moment we have to suspend the negotiations” after Turkey detained Kurdish lawmakers, Kati Piri, Turkey rapporteur for the European Parliament, says in interview on Dutch NPO radio 1 channel Friday.
“There’s no use at all to continue talks in this way when we see that Turkey is further sliding down and is clearly heading towards a dictatorship instead of a democracy”