Turkey detains 12 musicians who performed during pro-Kurdish party’s election campaign

Photo: MA

Twelve musicians who performed during the election campaign of the pro-Kurdish Green Left Party (YSP) were detained on Wednesday in Turkey’s western province of İzmir, the Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) reported.

In an investigation initiated by the İzmir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, the musicians were detained for allegedly disseminating terrorist propaganda. 

According to MA they performed during the opening ceremonies of the YSP’s election campaign offices in the province.

The prosecutor’s office launched the investigation due to the alleged dissemination of propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

On Tuesday police detained at least 65 people in raids across Turkey in operations targeting Kurds ahead of a critical presidential runoff on May 28.

The detainees include members of the YSP as well as executives from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK). The raids in 11 provinces were carried out as part of investigations overseen by the chief public prosecutor’s offices in Tekirdağ, Mersin and Mardin.

The warrants included charges of “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization.”

In the runup to May 14 elections, the Turkish government had intensified an ongoing legal assault on Kurds, who are seen as the kingmaker in the presidential election.

Turkey is poised to hold a runoff on May 28 following results from the May 14 presidential election that showed incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan failing to secure a victory against his secular rival, Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

Turkey’s embattled incumbent has often accused the HDP of links to the outlawed PKK, which the party denies. The PKK has been waging a bloody campaign in Turkey’s southeast since 1984.

Since the HDP faces a closure case on terrorism charges, it ran in the parliamentary elections under the banner of the YSP to avoid the risks of the party’s closure before the elections.

The YSP secured 61 seats in parliament with 8.8 percent of the vote.

The HDP said in March it would not field a presidential candidate in the May 14 elections.

The party announced in late April that it would support Kılıçdaroğlu and reiterated its endorsement for the runoff.

Nuray Özdoğan, a co-spokesperson for the HDP’s law and human rights commissions, said on May 7 that 295 people were detained and 61 were arrested in several investigations over the course of a month as part of a crackdown on the HDP.

A government crackdown on Kurdish parties and politicians in Turkey had reached new heights following a coup attempt in the country in July 2016.

Dozens of democratically elected Kurdish mayors were removed from office, while a large number of Kurdish politicians, including the former co-chairs of the HDP, were jailed following the coup attempt.

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