Turkish armed forces blocked a march by deputies from the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party, or HDP, on Thursday. The deputies wanted to reach the town of Cizre in the country's south to break the 24-hour curfew imposed on the city by the government to stop fighting between the national army and the Kurdish resistance fighters of the Kurdistan's Worker's Party, or PKK.
"What is under way in Cizre, a blockade of the town and a seven-day curfew, is completely illegal," said one of the HDP lawmakers, Saruhan Oluc, adding 100,000 people face food shortages and that the wounded were unable to reach hospitals. "This is a humanitarian crisis."
Some 30 HDP parliamentarians, including HDP's co-chairman Selahattin Demirtas, started a 55-mile march on Wednesday towards Cizre after security forces halted their convoy, the party said.
Cizre has been under curfew since last week because of fighting with PKK militants. The HDP marching delegation said that more than 21 civilians have been killed by Turkish military airstrikes in the border town between Syria and Turkey. Meanwhile, the country's interior ministry said that at least 30 PKK fighter hav been killed in the town since last week.
The news comes a day after Demirtas called for restraint and an end to the violence. However, due to that speech, he is now facing a possible lawsuit over insulting the president, inciting violence, and spreading terror propaganda.
Demirtaş said the legal investigation was politically motivated and that thousands of similar inquiries had been launched against pro-Kurdish politicians in the past.
“This is part of the campaign to undermine the HDP on the order of the president,” he said. “Like the president says, we are ready to pay the price. Our lives are not more valuable than the freedom struggle of our people.”
Earlier this week, HDP party's headquarters in the capital Ankara were attacked by an angry mob and suspected supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which was founded by Erdogan in 2001.
Since Turkey launched its attack on the Kurdish PKK in July, dozens of Turkish soldiers have been killed. Hundreds of PKK fighters have also been killed as part of Turkish airstrikes on the group’s bases in southern Turkey and northern Iraq.