Turkey detains journalists, politicians in large-scale operation against HDP

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Salih Turan (L) and Melike Ceyhan.

Turkish police on Wednesday carried out raids and took into custody scores of people including journalists working for Kurdish media outlets and members of the Kurdish political movement, specifically the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the Artı Gerçek news website reported.

Encompassing several provinces, the operations targeted local HDP members including provincial co-chairs as well as candidates nominated for the upcoming municipal elections.

The detentions in the province of Kocaeli were announced by HDP Kocaeli deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, who condemned the early morning raids on party members.

Police in İstanbul also detained journalists Salih Turan and Melike Ceyhan, who used to work for Kurdish media outlets.

Ceyhan, a former member of the Mezopotamya news agency, was reportedly taken into custody due to news she reported.

Turan, who used to work for Sputnik Kurdish service, was detained Tuesday on charges of spreading terrorist propaganda on social media, based on news he shared on his account.

He appeared before a court on Wednesday and was arrested for alleged membership in a terrorist group.

The homes of the journalists were searched and their electronic devices seized.

Since a failed coup attempt in July 2016, Turkey has jailed many journalists and HDP members on charges of terrorism.

The HDP was frequently accused of being aligned with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and many of its elected mayors in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast were replaced by government-appointed trustees.

Former HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ have been behind bars since November 2016.

Government figures as well as the pro-government media have been slamming and threatening the HDP as Turkey’s local elections of March 31 draw closer.

According to a press freedom report that was just released by the Council of Europe, Turkey is the world’s largest jailer of journalists and one of the worst performers in the world in terms of freedom of speech and media.

Turkey ranked 157th out of 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders.

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