“We will resist and resist until we win!”, chants Sebahat Tuncel before her mouth is forcibly shut by half a dozen police officers who drag her along the floor and detain her in early November. Nine years ago, a convoy of victory signs, cheerful slogans, and flowers received Tuncel as she was released from prison to enter parliament, having been elected while still inside. Tuncel, now in jail again, is one of dozens of Kurdish politicians from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) or the regional Democratic Regions Party (DBP) arrested by the Turkish security forces since late October under Turkish president Erdogan’s “anti-terror” operations against those challenging his authoritarian rule. This crackdown follows the attempted coup in July and represents a re-escalation of the war between the state and the Kurdish movement since the summer of 2015, ending a-two- and-a-half-year-long peace process. Like the advice given to the German anti-terrorist squad in the 1980s “Shoot the women first!” the toxic masculinity of the state became apparent in its declaration of a war on women; the strength of the militant Kurdish women’s movement poses the biggest threat to the system. Sebahat Tuncel’s case is not unique. At the end of October, Gültan Kisanak was detained. She was the first female co-mayor of Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality and former MP, who spent two years in the 1980s in the notorious Diyarbakir prison, where she survived the most atrocious forms of torture, such as having to live for months in a dog hut full of excrements because she refused to say “I am a Turk”. Her arrest was immediately followed by the violent arrest of Ayla Akat Ata, former MP and now spokeswoman of the Free Women’s Congress (KJA), the largest women’s umbrella organisation in Kurdistan and Turkey, which is among the 370 civil society organizations banned by the government since mid-November. She was hospitalised several times due to police violence during her parliamentary term and survived assassination attempts.
Dilar Dirik in Erdogan’s War on Women (Opendemocracy)