Turkish prosecutors on Friday issued a detention warrant for Serpil Kemalbay, co-chairperson of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Peoples’ Party (HDP), just two days before a party congress. “We shall respond to the arbitrary attacks on our components’ co-chairs and spokespersons by nurturing solidarity and democracy,” she tweeted.
According to Turkish news outlets, Kemalbay is among 17 individuals for whom detention warrants were issued by the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office on the grounds that they criticized a Turkish military incursion in northern Syria. Kemalbay and the 16 other suspects reportedly read a statement condemning the operation in Syria at a conference held last weekened.
Police in the cities of İstanbul, İzmir and Diyarbakır raided HDP affiliates’ homes in the latest wave of a clampdown by Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s administration on the Kurdish movement that began in late 2016.
Among the arrested were Professor Onur Hamzaoğlu, a spokesperson for the Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK), Secretary General of the Revolutionary Party Musa Piroğlu, spokesperson of the Platform for the Socialist Solidarity (SODAP) Kezban Konukçu, the Green Left Party co-chairs. Naci Sönmez and Eylem Tunceli, and Socialist Assembly of Women members.
Deputy co-chair of HDP’s sister party Democratic Regions Party (DBP), Hacer Özdemir, was also arrested in Diyarbakır. Police earlier this week detained DBP Co-chair Mehmet Arslan over his criticism of Ankara’s now three-weeks-long undeclared war on the Syrian Kurds which has so far killed over 150, according to medical sources in Afrin.
Meanwhile, HDP’s 20 members in Gebze district of Kocaeli province, including Gebze district co-chairs, have been detained on Friday. Police forces conducted simultaneous house raids targeting several addresses Friday morning. 20 people were taken into custody in the operation, including HDP Gebze district co-chairs Damla Bağcı and Mustafa Altunbaş.
The Turkish military and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters on Jan. 20 launched Operation Olive Branch in Afrin against the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey sees as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have reacted strongly to people who oppose the operation, and prosecutor’s offices have initiated investigations into people who share social media messages critical of the operation.
Earlier this week Turkish police teams detained 31 HDP and Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK) officials in raids on their homes in İstanbul.
Former HDP Co-chairpersons Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ as well as several other deputies and dozens of party members are currently in jail on terror charges. The party will hold its third general party congress on Sunday and elect its new co-chairpersons. (SCF with turkishminute.com)