Police storm houses across Turkey to arrest Kurdish women activists

Police storm houses across Turkey to arrest Kurdish women activists
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Arrest orders for 50 women have been issued, and 19 women, most of them TJA activists, have been reportedly arrested so far.

The Turkish police stormed residences in 14 provinces of Turkey in dawn raids on Tuesday to arrest 50 Kurdish woman activists who are alleged to be affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), state news agency AA said.

The operation that is coordinated from Turkish capital Ankara was carried out by anti-terror teams, and 57 houses were raided in Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, Adana, Mersin, Antep and in Kurdish-majority provinces of Diyarbakir, Sirnak, Van, Agri, Mardin, Siirt, Mus and Urfa. 19 women have been taken into custody so far, AA said.

The Free Women's Movement, Tevgere Jinen Azad in Kurdish (TJA), was targeted by the police, AA noted.

All women news agency JinNews identified 14 women in custody as TJA activists Figen Ekti, Mekiye Ormanci, Didar Cesme, Zekiye Guler, Bedia Akkaya, Sultan Esen, Hatice Gungor, Jineoloji Academy member Figen Aras, writer Meral Simsek, Diyadin's former co-mayor Hazal Aras, and Leyla Deniz, Pinar Ceylan, Yeliz Ayyildiz Kiyak, Merve Tekin Demirel.

About TJA

Despite being treated by the government media and Turkish officials as an illegal group, TJA recently held its fourth congress in Turkey's southeastern city of Batman on 26 September with the attendance of 700 delegates from Kurdish-majority areas in Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, and some representatives of Turkish women's rights groups like the Women Defense Network.

TJA is descendant of the Free Women’s Congress (KJA), which was established in 2015 as an umbrella for various women's initiatives, as well as political parties, NGOs, culture and faith groups, and local governments. KJA was renamed TJA after having been shut down by a decree under the state of emergency rule in 2016 following a military coup attempt in Turkey.

"We aim to reach all women. We organize young women. We are in solidarity with labor movements because you cannot separate the labor question from the woman's question," Gulcihan Simsek, a former district mayor, told OpenDemocracy in October 2018.

"We have women's centers to combat violence against women. We have established women's organizations in different social fields, for example, the economic field. We are setting up academies for women's education. We are also in contact with international women's organizations."