Turkish gov’t detains at least 91 more over alleged propaganda on social media against military operation in Afrin

Turkish government has detained at least 91 more people across Turkey on Tuesday over their alleged propaganda and criticism against the ongoing military operation together with Free Syria Army (FSA) militias targeting Syria’s Afrin region. Turkish security authorities have claimed that the detainees were promoting the the People’s Protection Units (PYD) and outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on their social media accounts.

On Sunday, investigations were launched by chief public prosecutor’s offices in Ankara, Van, Diyarbakır, Mardin, Muş, and İstanbul against social media users who allegedly voiced support for the PYD/PKK. Later, the investigations were extended to Kütahya, Muğla, İzmir, Ağrı, Mersin, Iğdır, Şanlıurfa, Bingöl and Ardahan.

Seventeen were arrested in raids across three provinces in an operation coordinated by police in the western province of İzmir. The provincial head of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Çerkez Aydemir was also detained. He has also been accused of “spreading terror propaganda.”

Detentions came after the İzmir’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into social media activity allegedly promoting the terrorist organization against Turkey’s ongoing military operation in Syria’s Afrin region.

In a separate operation, police detained 6 people suspected of “spreading terrorist propaganda on public transport” and allegedly “sharing video footage of the group on social media.” It was claimed that the detainees were preparing to organize a protest in the Bornova district of the province.

In each of the eastern Igdır province and the Mediterranean province of Mersin, 5 people were detained on similar charges.

Later on Tuesday, police arrested another 58 suspects in nationwide operations. Six were arrested in eastern Van province, while another seven arrests were made in southeastern Şanlıurfa province.

In the western city of Bursa, gendarmerie arrested three suspects, known by initials A.K., M.K., and R.U.; another suspect was arrested in Samsun, a Black Sea province.

The 41 people were detained in Kütahya, Diyarbakır, Muğla, Mardin, Muş, Ankara, Ağrı and Bingöl provinces. Separately, 3 suspects were remanded in custody in Muğla and Ağrı provinces. They were charged with “making propaganda of a terrorist organization” and “inciting hatred and enmity among people.”

According to the Turkish General Staff, the Afrin operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as “to protect the Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.” Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012 when the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria left the city.

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