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Kurdish politicians detained after being slammed by interior minister

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Turkey has detained 13 people including members of Kurdish political parties the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and Democratic Regions Party (DBP) in the southeastern province of Mardin, the Artı Gerçek news website reported on Thursday.

Detention warrants were issued by the Mardin Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, which is investigating a party event held on Jan. 30 that featured HDP Co-chair Pervin Buldan to introduce the party’s candidates for Turkey’s upcoming local elections.

The suspects are accused of spreading terrorist propaganda by allegedly chanting during the meeting a socialist anthem in Kurdish by the name of “Çerxa Şoreşê.”

The event was verbally targeted on Feb. 2 by Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, who implied that the HDP nominees were announced on instructions from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“They are singing guerilla songs. Now that we are doing what needs to be done by killing terrorists, they are trying to attend their funerals. Let them try to go there, if they dare,” Soylu said.

The Turkish government became increasingly at odds with the Kurdish political movement after talks with the PKK were deadlocked in 2015. Government members as well as pro-government media outlets began treating the Kurdish parties as aligned with the PKK or functioning as its political branch.

Following a failed coup attempt in July 2016, state of emergency measures allowed the Turkish government to intensify its crackdown on Kurdish politicians, including imprisonment for many HDP deputies including the party’s former-co chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, who have been behind bars since November 2016.

Soylu is one of the architects of the crackdown, with his ministry appointing trustees to replace duly elected HDP and DBP mayors in most of the provinces in Turkey’s Kurdish-dominated Southeast.

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