Turkish police on Friday detained 14 members of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP), including its co-chair, in simultaneous raids across the country, Voice of America (VOA) Turkish reported.
Detention warrants were issued for 15 DBP members as part of an investigation launched by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. The 14 suspects were detained in police raids on DBP buildings and other locations across 10 provinces including İstanbul, Ankara, İzmir and Diyarbakır.
DBP Co-chair Keskin Bayındır and several provincial officials are accused of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.
DBP lawyers told VOA Turkish that the investigation targets DBP officials, arguing that the search of party premises as part of the investigation was illegal because the investigation was directed at individuals.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the second largest opposition party in the Turkish Parliament, issued a statement about the detentions on Twitter, calling the detentions of the DBP politicians a “coup” against the will of the people.
“You cannot intimidate the Kurdish people with such attacks,” said the HDP, which is allied with the DBP.
Bileşen partimiz Demokratik Bölgeler Partisi Genel Merkezi ve il örgütleri basılarak DBP Eş Genel Başkanı Keskin Bayındır ve yöneticileri gözaltına alınıyor. Bu darbe ve siyaseti yasaklama girişimi iktidarın korkusunun göstergesidir. Kürt halkını bu saldırılarla yıldıramazsınız. pic.twitter.com/CaGlrgInep
— HDP (@HDPgenelmerkezi) December 23, 2022
The detentions took place as Turkey heads to presidential and parliamentary elections in June 2023.
Meanwhile, protests were staged on Friday in front of the DBP buildings in Van, Şanlıurfa and Şırnak provinces in response to the detentions and the police operation.
HDP deputy Ömer Öcalan said during the protest in Şanlıurfa that the operations against Kurdish politicians are not the first and probably won’t be the last.
A government crackdown on Kurdish parties and politicians in Turkey 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.