Turkish gov’t detains pro-Kurdish HDP’s former co-chair Kemalbay in Ankara

Serpil Kemalbay, who has handed over her post as co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and was elected as a member of the Party Assembly at the party congress on February 10, has been detained by Turkish police in Ankara.

Kemalbay, who was facing an arrest warrant had her house in İstanbul’s Esenyurt district raided by the police earlier today. Policemen broke the door of Kemalbay’s house to get in, and conducted a detailed search inside before leaving the house.

Kemalbay was taken to Ankara Courthouse for testimony and she was detained by the anti-terror police in front of the court building. She was taken to the anti-terror branch of police directorate in Ankara

Before the 3rd Ordinary Congress of the HDP, 7 people including Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK) was detained and detention warrants were issued for 17 people including Kemalbay. It grabs attention that Kemalbay was detained after Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pointed her as a target during Tuesday’s group meeting of the AKP. Erdoğan accused Kemalbay and some other members of the HDP and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) of being fond of terror.

Meanwhile, a prosecutor on Tuesday asked to sentence HDP deputy Meral Danış Beştaş up to 25 years in prison over charges of “being a member of a terrorist organization,” “inciting others to commit crime” and “provoking the public to attend illegal meetings and demonstrations.”

HDP Adana deputy Beştaş was detained on Jan. 30, 2017 as part of the investigation carried out by the Diyarbakır Chief Prosecutor’s Office, and was later released on on April 21, 2017 on conditions of trial without arrest.

The prosecutor reminded Beştaş’s call for people to take to the streets in October 2014, when the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attacked the Syrian town of Kobane. Adding that the same call was made from the official Twitter account of the HDP and Beştaş was a member of the central executive committee of the party at that time, the prosecutor accused Beştaş of acting in accordance with the instructions from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The prosecutor also said Beştaş was among the protestors in the Sur district of the southeastern province of Diyarbakır in September 2015, where a curfew was declared at that time and asked Beştaş to be sentenced be-tween 11 and 25 years in prison.

Also on Tuesday, house raids were conducted in the central Edremit and Ayvalık districts of Balıkesir province against people protesting the Turkish military intervention into Afrin in their social media accounts and demanding peace. Nine people including educators’ union Eğitim-Sen,Labor Party (EMEP) and Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP) members and administrators have been detained in the raids. Detainees have been taken to the Anti-terror Unit.

Turkish police have detained 17 suspects during an operation in southern Hatay province for allegedly spreading and making propaganda for PKK/KCK/PYD/-YPG on Tuesday. Provincial heads and members of HDP were among those who were detained.

Turkey has stepped up its crackdown on Kurdish politicians since 2016. Trustees have been appointed to dozens of municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast, while hundreds of local Kurdish politicians have been arrested on terror charges.

Nine HDP deputies including party’s co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ are still in prison. Moreover, a total of 27 HDP deputies were detained and released by Turkish government after Nov. 4, 2016 over alleged links to the outlawed PKK.

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