Turkey arrests HDP co-leaders, 9 other MPs

Turkey arrests HDP co-leaders, 9 other MPs

Fri Nov 4, 2016 3:23AM

Turkish police have arrested the two co-leaders of pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) along with nine other lawmakers from the party.

Turkish security forces detained Selahattin Demirtas at his home in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir and Figen Yuksekdag at her residence in the capital Ankara early on Friday, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, citing unnamed security sources, reported, adding that the arrests were “part of an ongoing counter-terrorism investigation.”

The report also said that the party leaders were taken into custody after they refused to appear in court to give testimony in connection with an investigation launched by Diyarbakir’s chief public prosecutor.

The pair face prosecution under the country’s anti-terrorism law after the Turkish parliament stripped them of their parliamentary impunity earlier this year. The HDP leaders, however, vowed in June they would not cooperate with officials on the investigation and would refuse to testify.

Turkey’s TV news channel NTV said in a report that the two were accused of spreading propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly accused the HDP of being the political wing of the PKK, calling for pro-Kurdish MPs to face terrorism charges.

He has also in the past stressed that the removal of officials and civil servants accused of having links to the PKK is a critical move in the fight against the group.

According to the Turkish Interior Ministry, the other nine HDP lawmakers were also arrested on Friday. It added that detention orders were issued for 13 lawmakers, but only 11 MPs, including the two co-leaders, had so far been arrested as two other lawmakers were abroad.

“The HDP calls on the international community to react against the Erdogan regime’s coup,” the party said on Twitter.

Reports say that police raided and searched the party’s headquarters in central Ankara, after police cars and armed vehicles encircled the party’s main office.

Kati Piri, the European Parliament’s rapporteur for Turkey, criticized the move, calling it a “very bad news from Turkey.”

The arrests seem to be part of a large-scale operation against the country’s main pro-Kurdish party, which is the third biggest in the 550-seat parliament, with 59 seats in its control.

On October 26, security forces detained Gultan Kisanak and her co-mayor Firat Anli of the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir as part of an investigation into terrorism links. Both were accused of giving speeches in support of the PKK, which Turkey deems as a terrorist organization, and for pushing autonomy for the country’s some 16 million Kurds.

A shaky ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015, and attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since.

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