Turkish police detains pro-Kurdish HDP deputy Lezgin Botan in İstanbul

HDP deputy Lezgin Botan

Turkish police detained pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Lezgin Botan in a hotel in İstanbul on Tuesday morning. According to his lawyer, Botan was wanted for an older case against him. It was reported that the deputy was detained in his hotel room and taken to the Çaglayan Courthouse.

Meanwhile, Turkish prosecutor in Diyarbakir on Monday demanded a prison sentence of up to six years for HDP deputy Ziya Pir over alleged insults to autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as well as a state-appointed bureaucrat who replaced the jailed co-mayors of the city. In a criminal file against Pir, the chief prosecutor also demanded from Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)-dominated Parliament to strip his immunity as a deputy from prosecution.

A speech Pir gave in the run-up to a controversial referendum in April 16, 2017 on extending President’s powers led to the indictment, reported Kurdistan 24 news outlet.

HDP is already under a massive state crackdown that began in October 2016 with the arrests en masse of its co-leaders Selahattin Demirtaş and a dozen other deputies during night raids on their homes. Pir was among the first detained, though unlike the now 13 month-long pre-trial imprisonments of Demirtas and others, his arrest lasted short. However, he has been arrested and interrogated multiple times since then.

An ethnic Laz with origins in the northern Black Sea Region, Pir also serves as the vice-president of a sub-committee at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

“At least you could have sent someone sane,” the Diyarbakır representative had said about the trustee Cumali Atilla whom the Interior Ministry appointed to run municipal affairs after the purge and arrest of the elected co-mayors Gültan Kışanak and Fırat Anlı. Prosecutor’s office alleged that Pir’s words “hurt the bureaucrat’s honor and dignity.”

Turkey has stepped up its crackdown on Kurdish politicians in recent times. Trustees have been appointed to dozens of municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast, while hundreds of local Kurdish politicians as well as 9 HDP deputies, including the party’s co-chairs, are behind bars on terror charges.

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