HDP’s former co-chairperson detained in Ankara

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Serpil Kemalbay (Photo: YeniSoluk)

Serpil Kemalbay, former co-chairperson of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Peoples’ Party (HDP), was detained in Ankara on Tuesday, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

According to the report the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued a detention warrant for Kemalbay for disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization in a speech on Sunday at a party congress in Ankara.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Monday launched an investigation into newly elected HDP Co-chairperson Pervin Buldan and HDP deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder over remarks on a Turkish military operation in the Afrin region of Syria during the party congress on Sunday.

According to a statement from the prosecutor’s office, the investigation was initiated for putting posters of outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan in the congress hall; making statements that tried to portray the Turkish military operation in Afrin as being against the Kurdish people; praising the leader of a terrorist organization; disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization; and inciting hatred and hostility among the people.

The Ankara prosecutor’s office had on Friday issued detention warrants for Kemalbay and 17 others on the grounds that they had criticized a Turkish military incursion in northern Syria.
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 last 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.

Turkey’s Interior Ministry on Monday announced that 474 people have been detained on terror charges due to their posts on social media critical of the Turkish military incursion in the northern Syrian town of Afrin, while 192 have been detained for taking part in street demonstrations protesting the operation.

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