HDP members, including İstanbul co-chair, arrested in run-up to Turkish snap elections

Cengiz Çiçek

An İstanbul court ruled to arrest 10 people, including pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) İstanbul branch co-chair Cengiz Çiçek and officials from other branches, according to the NTV news website.

On April 28 police had raided a public meeting held by the HDP in İstanbul and detained 41 people from the party and press. Following police interrogation, 31 of them were released on the same day, with the other 10 remaining in police custody until today.

The prosecutor stated that their move was based on an informant’s tip claiming there would be a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) propaganda meeting at the HDP’s branch in İstanbul’s Güngören district. The court accepted posters displaying jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and other PKK members as evidence of “terrorist propaganda.”

In addition to HDP İstanbul branch co-chair Çiçek, HDP members Ömer Özkan, Halit İpekyüz, Mehmet Emin Kılıçarslan, Yüksel Seyitvan, Gülsimet Önal, Keziban Bulak, Kazım Köse and two other people, Gönül Karaman and Yusuf Kesik, who were in the building at the time, were arrested by the court.

After the police operation last week, the HDP released a statement via Twitter saying, “We do not accept attacks against democratic politics and call on our people to support our party.”

Also on Saturday, several HDP members were taken into custody following house raids in Denizli province. According to a report by the pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency (ANF), HDP Denizli provincial co-president Cevahir Kayar’s house was raided and her husband, Muhlis Kayar, detained.

Police operations were conducted against hundreds of HDP members, before an April 16 referendum last year. The HDP campaigned for a “No” vote in the referendum.

The HDP is the second-largest opposition party in the Turkish Parliament, whose former co-leader, Selahattin Demirtaş, has been in prison since November 2016.

Meanwhile, an unknown group of people attacked an opposition Felicity Party (SP) campaign booth as party leader Temel Karamollaoğlu was announcing his candidacy for a presidential election to be held on June 24.

The stand, part of a campaign effort to attract support for Karamollaoğlu in Ankara’s Kızılay Square, was attacked and party supporters in the vicinity were insulted, according to local media. Party leaflets and other materials were scattered during the attack. The incident was the first of its kind in Turkey’s 2018 election period. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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