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Kurdish politicians face hefty fine due to social distancing violations during protest

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A fine amounting to TL 140,000 ($18,000) has been imposed on 45 Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) politicians and supporters for violating social distancing rules during a demonstration held to protest the arrest of local HDP politicians in southern Turkey, the Mezopotamya news agency reported.

The group was protesting the arrest of HDP Osmaniye provincial branch co-chairpersons Kadriye Tören and Ali Coşkun following police raids on their houses on Nov. 9. The politicians were arrested on charges of membership in a terrorist organization, namely the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as part of an investigation conducted by the Osmaniye Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Among the protestors who gathered in front of the HDP Osmaniye district branch were HDP deputies Fatma Kurtulan and Tülay Hatimoğulları.

The fine was imposed on the group after police officers reported them to the Osmaniye Governor’s Office, which is responsible for implementing coronavirus measures.

HDP Party Council member Barış Karabıyık, one of those facing a fine, told Mezopotamya that the fines were imposed because they were standing up for the arrested politicians and not because of social distancing violations.

He said the police used force against the protestors to prevent them from making a press statement and that it was the police officers who actually violated social distancing rules.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and its leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have organized many party events and meetings despite the coronavirus pandemic and received widespread criticism for violating the anti-coronavirus measures. Yet, none of the participants of those events faced any fines.

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