Turkish police detain 2 people for singing in Kurdish at a wedding

Turkish police raided a wedding celebration in the Narlıdere district of İzmir province and detained two local musicians who were singing in Kurdish, according to a report by the pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency (ANF) on Tuesday.

The musicians were reportedly taken into custody for singing in Kurdish and making victory sign and were released after giving statements at the police station.

The Construction and Structural Workers Union had shared a notice from Yapı & Yapı Construction Company on Facebook in late March that read “Conversing in languages other than Turkish on the construction site is a disturbance to all employees, including other subcontracted workers.” According to a report by the Diken online news outlet, the notice was distributed to workers on the site of İstanbul Kayaşehir.

The workers union shared the notice with the comment, “We have found out that Kurdish workers speaking Kurdish among themselves on the construction site has been banned.” Tens of thousands of Kurds are working on construction jobs in İstanbul and other metropolitan cities in Turkey. Several incidents were previously reported in which Kurdish workers were attacked because they were speaking in their mother tongue.

Meanwhile, 12 people, including pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) officials, were detained by Turkish police during raids in the İpekyolu district of Van province on Tuesday morning. The detainees reportedly included HDP Van provincial co-chair Tahirhan Sayyiğit and İpekyolu district executives Nuri Gür, Ali Beyaz and Fikret Duman. The identities of the eight other detainees were not immediately clear.

Also on Tuesday, HDP Deputy Co-chair Murat Çepni, who is responsible for ecology, was taken into custody following a raid on his flat. Çepni was reportedly detained because of his social media posts.

The Turkish government’s crackdown on the Kurdish political movement began in late 2016 with the arrest of high profile politicians, including the party’s then co-chairs, Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, which led to the detention of at least 5,000 members of the HDP, including 80 mayors.

Trustees have been appointed to dozens of municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast. There are currently 10 HDP deputies behind bars. The developments have attracted widespread criticism from the region and Western countries.

Turkish authorities had conducted direct talks with Abdullah Öcalan, jailed leader of the outlawed PKK for several years until a truce in effect collapsed in the summer of 2015. Since then, there have been heavy clashes between the PKK and Turkish security forces.

More than 40,000 people, including 5,500 security force members, have been killed in four decades of fighting between the Turkish state and the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU. Over 1,200 Turkish security personnel and civilians, including a number of women and children, have been killed since July 2015 alone, when the Turkish government and the PKK resumed the armed struggle.

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