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2 HDP deputies under investigation due to comments about Gara operation

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Turkish prosecutors launched have investigations into two prominent lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) over their remarks critical of a Turkish military operation in northern Iraq that resulted in the death of 13 Turkish nationals at the hands of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) over the weekend.

Turkey on Sunday accused PKK militants of executing 13 Turkish nationals, mainly members of the security forces, whom they had held captive in northern Iraq. Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Turkish soldiers discovered 13 bodies in a cave in the Gara region of northern Iraq, where Ankara launched an operation against the PKK on Feb.10.

The Turkish nationals held by the PKK had found little or no coverage in the Turkish media, although some of the hostages were kidnapped by the PKK as early as 2015. There was widespread criticism on social media as to why the Turkish government had not tried to rescue the hostages earlier.

HDP deputies Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu and Hüda Kaya, who are also prominent human rights activists, were among the critics.

Gergerlioğlu, who posted a video message from one of the victims in Gara, a former soldier named Semih Özbey, who called on Turkish authorities and civil society to take action to save them, tweeted: “May he rest in peace. I am so sorry. If only our efforts for a solution [to the Kurdish problem] and the achieving of peace had been fruitful. One of the hostage soldiers was saying this two-and-a-half years ago. No matter what happens, the goal [of the operation] should have been to allow these people to live. A solution is unlikely through death, we need to allow our people live.”

Kaya criticized the silence of political parties and the media over the situation of the PKK hostages and accused the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) of causing the death of the hostages with its operation.

“The families of the hostages came to visit us many times, they met with political parties. The more we talked about peace, the more we got attacked. The camp where the hostages were being held was bombed by Turkey, and then they stopped after finding out the hostages were dead. Those who approve of war motions [referring to cross-border motions approved by the Turkish Parliament] are mourning now,” tweeted Kaya.

The investigation into Gergerlioğlu and Kaya is being carried out by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

According to a statement from the prosecutor’s office on Monday, investigations have also been launched into others who posted video messages from the slain hostages and claim that the PKK camp was bombed by the TSK. The investigations were launched based on Article 7/2 of Turkey’s Anti-Terror Law (TMK) and Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code (TCK), which concern terrorist organization propaganda and insulting the Turkish nation, Turkish state and state organs, respectively.

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