Dutch MPs of nine political parties raised their voice today against the detention of their counterparts in Turkey. The MPs from the Socialist Party (SP), Green Left, Christen Democrats (CDA), Party for the Animals, Party for the Freedom (PVV), 50Plus, Christian Union, Labour Party (PvdA) and Reformed Party (SGP) carried portraits of thirteen detained HDP MPs and demanded their release.
Solidarity from left to right
“It happens rarely that we work together on the same cause from left to right in Parliament,” said Emile Roemer, chairman of the SP, with the portrait of HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş clamped firmly in his hands. “But today is about the fundament of democracy. Parliamentarians do not belong in prison. They need to do their jobs and to express their opinion. Then you are talking about a real democracy. It is very good that we go here en bloc together in the picture because there is a lot at stake.” Kirsten van den Hul, MP for the Labour Party, shared the necessity to show solidarity. “I think it’s very important we stand here as wide from left to right. I have often talked with political prisoners years after their release and they told me how important these signs of solidarity have been for them.” Joël Voordewind, MP of the Christian Union, welcomed the fact that many parties were present at the campaign also. “Although it is sad that we have to stand together here, it is good that we unite forces here in Parliament to show solidarity with those people who can not open their mouths. I hope that this action contributes to the pressure on Turkey to give back these people the right to assemble, the right to a political opinion and the right to freedom of expression. ”
Van den Hul further said that it is important that the Dutch Parliament watches Turkey closely, “since Turkey seems to be on collision course”. CDA MP Raymond Knops endorsed that democracy in Turkey is under severe pressure: “I have spoken with HDP deputies and have seen how serious the situation is and how it goes against all rights parliamentarians should have.”
Freedom of speech
Marianne Thieme, leader of the Party for the Animals, stressed that MPs have a role beyond the borders: “We hereby give a very clear signal to all those brave people in other countries that they should continue to fight for their right to freedom of expression and we will defend them always. Especially in countries where democracy is at stake, as is now the case in Turkey.” PVV MP Raymond de Roon agreed that the freedom of expression must fully remain intact: “This certainly applies to the parliamentarians in Turkey”. For the same reason, SGP party leader Kees van der Staaij was present at the action: “I think we’re here today to defend these parliamentarians together, not because we all support their beliefs but because of the fact that they should not be silenced. On the contrary, they should be encouraged and enabled to speak out, because that is exactly their job.”
Normally MPs listen to demonstrators on the square before Parliament in The Hague. However, today it were MPs themselves who demonstrated for the release of the HDP MPs. “When parliamentarians are no longer protected in exercising their rights, which are given to them by their own people, their voters, we are really crossing a bridge we should never cross”, said MP Martin van Rooijen (50Plus). “We must do everything we can to enable these people to resume their duties in freedom.”