Two deputies from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Berdan Öztürk and Mehmet Emin Adıyaman were detained on Thursday as they were holding a campaign rally in the eastern province of Ardahan against a constitutional reform package that will be put a public vote in April.
The deputies were taken to the Ardahan Courthouse for questioning.
Turkey has stepped up political pressure on Kurdish politicians in recent months. In addition to appointment of trustees to the management of scores of municipalities, Turkey has arrested dozens of Kurdish politicians including 13 Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputies including the party’s co-chairs.
Turkey has been highly polarized over the referendum, with many government officials accusing potential naysayers of siding with terror organizations and coup plotters.
In January, Turkey’s Parliament passed the constitutional amendments, later approved by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, that would transform the political order into an executive-style presidential system, effectively widening the scope of powers of the position.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), backed by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), pushed through the legislation that President Erdoğan says will bring the strong leadership needed to prevent a return of the fragile coalition governments of the past.
The Republican People’s Party (CHP) and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) fear the reform will fuel authoritarianism.
Parliament’s approval paved the way for a nationwide referendum on the amendments, which would give the president, a traditionally more ceremonial role, the power to dismiss ministers and Parliament, issue decrees, declare emergency rule and appoint figures to key positions, including the judiciary.
It would also allow the president to be a member of a political party, which is currently prohibited under the constitution as the presidency is expected to exercise impartiality.