Demirtaş subject to investigation over Diyarbakır speech

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Pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) leader Selahattin Demirtas (C) addresses a demostration following the arrest of the two co-mayors of Diyarbakir on October 27, 2016. The two co-mayors of Diyarbakir, the biggest Kurdish-majority city in southeast Turkey, have been arrested as part of a "terrorism" enquiry, security officials said. There was a heavy police presence around the town hall following the arrests of Gultan Kisanak and Firat Anli, who together lead a city that has been rocked by clashes between security forces and members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). / AFP PHOTO / ILYAS AKENGIN

The office of the prosecutor in Diyarbakır on Thursday launched an investigation into the co-chairman of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) following a speech he gave the same day in the city to protest the detention of the co-mayors of Diyarbakır.

According to the official statement, Selahattin Demirtaş is subject to an investigation for “calling on people not to obey laws, disparaging the Republic of Turkey and insulting the president.”

“Up until recently we were calling for an early election, but no more,” said a defiant Demirtaş as he went on to say that “until our mayors are restored to their positions, there will be resistance and struggle,” addressing protesters in Turkey’s largest Kurdish city of Diyarbakır.

Diyarbakır Co-mayors Gülten Kışanak and Fırat Anlı were detained on terrorism charges on Tuesday evening in a development that caused outrage and sparked protests in the region.

Demirtaş as well as numerous other Kurdish politicians directed attention to an Internet blackout in the region. “There has been no Internet connection in any part of Kurdistan for the last two days,” Demirtaş pointed out, adding that due to fear of the president, no media outlet would be able to broadcast the protests in Diyarbakır. However, Demirtaş said that even in the absence of media outlets, they would tell people about the oppression, in reference to the detention of the mayors, by going door to door to speak to people.

According to Demirtaş, since there is no independent judiciary in Turkey, there is no point of testifying to a prosecutor who acts as the “legal commission” of the governing party. “We are against prosecutors who act with the perspective of the palace,” Demirtaş further said, alluding to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s control over the judiciary.

The Diyarbakır co-mayors are accused of financing and supporting terrorism, although Demirtaş disputed the charges, saying that they have always been in support of peace efforts.

While ruling out support for terrorism, Demirtaş argued that it was governing party mayors who supported terrorism, in reference to government accusations against the Gülen movement.

Despite the lack of any court verdict or any credible recognition of the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization as the government claims, Demirtaş seemed to acknowledge the allegations. “If you are looking for terrorism supporters, look at [İstanbul Mayor Kadir] Topbaş and [Ankara Mayor Melih] Gökçek,” Demirtaş said, going on to say that they had allocated half of these cities to the Gülen movement.

Demirtaş further blamed the government, adding that it was the government itself that supported the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Al-Nusra Front.

Meanwhile, three more employees of the Diyarbakır Municipality were detained on Thursday.

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