A total of 49 members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) youth organizations were detained in the last three days in raids that were carried out in five Turkish provinces, the Bianet news website reported.
On Monday morning eight people were taken into custody in Mersin, while six were detained in Hatay. Fifteen people were also detained in Izmir and Manisa provinces.
On Saturday morning 20 people, including a number of minors, were detained in southern Adana province. Among the detained, 14 were released after interrogation, while six remained in detention.
The reason for the detentions was not disclosed.
HDP members protested the detentions Tuesday morning in several cities. Servan Beyazıt from the HDP youth organization said in a statement that their party was being unjustly targeted. “Our youth organizations are being targeted by the government,” he said. “We ask the public to not stay silent about these unjust detentions. Don’t be silent because the people who are being detained today are Kurds, but one day this injustice will also find you.”
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), together with its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), have long portrayed the HDP as the political front of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community, and has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
The party denies links to the PKK and says it is working to achieve a peaceful solution to Turkey’s Kurdish issue and is only coming under attack because of its strong opposition to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s 19-year rule.
The political and legal assault on the HDP, which intensified after a truce between Kurdish militants and the AKP government broke down in 2015, grew even stronger after Erdoğan survived a coup attempt in July 2016 that was followed by a sweeping political crackdown.
The party currently faces a closure case on charges of “attempting to destroy the indivisibility between the state and the people.”
Hundreds of HDP politicians, including the party’s former co-chairs, are behind bars on terrorism charges, while most of the 65 HDP mayors elected in the predominantly Kurdish Southeast in 2019 have been replaced by government-appointed trustees.