Leading ESP activists detained in police raid in Istanbul

In Istanbul, two leading members of ESP, Deniz Aktaş and Ebru Yiğit, were detained in a night police raid. The raid took place at the residence of the widow of Suruç massacre survivor Sezgin Dağ, who died in Switzerland in 2020.

Two leading members of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP), Deniz Aktaş and Ebru Yiğit, have been taken into custody in the western Turkish metropolis of Istanbul. The raid on a flat in the Gazi district on Thursday night was carried out by a "special counter-terrorism unit". A total of four people were detained and taken to the counter-terrorism headquarters of the Istanbul Police Directorate. A secrecy order was imposed on the investigation file, and the authorities have imposed a 24-hour ban on lawyers. For one day, the victims were thus denied access to legal counsel. Their relatives were not informed about the arrest.

According to the ESP, the raid took place at the residence of Nurcan Gülbudak. She is the widow of the Kurdish activist Sezgin Dağ, who survived the ISIS attack in Suruç in 2015, but died in November 2020 in Lyss, Switzerland, where he was living as a refugee in an asylum centre. According to the ESP, Aktaş and Yiğit, who are also members of the Executive Council of the Socialist Women's Council, stayed with Gülbudak as guests. The meticulous search of the house, which lasted several hours, was not documented on video, and an explosives team went to the flat during the raid.

The ESP also complains that its women members were subjected to a degrading naked search at the police station in the presence of male officers. "The way in which the Istanbul police authority proceeded clearly paints a picture of an attempted plot against socialist people," the party stated on Friday. The party described the action as part of the "traditional illegal treatment" of ESP, including criminalisation campaigns carried out by the police and the media, as well as measures such as "de facto emergency decrees in Gazi", interference in the private sphere of all dissenters, attacks on striking workers or bans on vigils for political prisoners.

"All this violence is not independent of the policies of the fascist AKP/MHP regime, which has turned this country into an oppressive backdrop of silence in its struggle for survival," ESP stated, demanding the immediate release of its arrested members and calling on the democratic public to show solidarity.

ESP - member party of the HDP

ESP became known especially with the Gezi protests in 2013. One of its founding members is the imprisoned former co-chair of the HDP, Figen Yüksekdağ. In 2014, ESP joined the HDP (Peoples' Democratic Party), which functions as an umbrella party. On 20 July 2015, a bomb attack was carried out on its youth organisation, the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations. The ISIS attack in Suruç in the province of Urfa killed 33 people, mostly young people. The activists had gathered at the Amara cultural centre and wanted to hold a press conference before leaving for Kobanê. The planned trip to northern Syria was supposed to be an act of solidarity. The young people wanted to take children's toys and humanitarian aid supplies to the ISIS-destroyed city. 104 other people were injured in the attack.