Pro-Kurdish mayor, 2 politicians in police custody hospitalized for food poisoning

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Ayhan Bilgen

Ayhan Bilgen, co-mayor of the eastern city of Kars from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and two other HDP politicians were hospitalized for food poisoning while in police custody, party officials said on Monday.

Can Memiş and İsmail Şengün were hospitalized along with Bilgen, allegedly due to food poisoning from meals provided by police officers, HDP Deputy Chairman Ümit Dede announced on Monday.

Earlier on Friday, 82 HPD politicians, including Bilgen, Sırrı Süreyya Önder and Ayla Akat Ata, were detained in police raids on their residences over the 2014 Kobane protests.

The claims of food poisoning were first raised by the detainees’ lawyers on Sunday, when they were finally allowed to meet with their clients. The HDP officials’ request to see their colleagues was approved by the authorities.

The HDP released a message on Twitter saying that the party had been unable to obtain information about the health of the hospitalized party executives.

In protest, a group of HDP members gathered in front of the Ankara police station. The HDP’s Dede was then allowed to see three of the detainees, Bilgen, Önder and Ata.

Dede said later in a statement that Bilgen, co-mayor of the eastern city of Kars, was returned to police headquarters after a blood test detected an infection. He was given a prescription, while Memiş and Şengün were still in the hospital. Bilgen reportedly told Dede that the other two were also in good condition.

Dede added that Ata also felt sick but not seriously enough to be taken to the hospital. The HDP spokesman added that all the detained HDP politicians were complaining about the food served in detention.

“Fellow attorneys who met with their clients during the day said everyone [under detention] was complaining about the food and that they were given old and bad food,” the BiaNet news website quoted Dede as saying.

The HDP members are under detention as part of a newly initiated investigation that came six years after the violent Kobane protests of 2014. They are accused of having a role in the protests in Kurdish majority cities against the Turkish government’s tacit approval of the Kobane siege in October 2014. At the time, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants had laid a prolonged siege to the Kurdish town of Kobane in northern Syria.

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