13 members of pro-Kurdish HDP detained across Turkey

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Turkish police have detained 13 members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in İstanbul, Kocaeli and Erzurum provinces, the Mezopotamya news agency reported on Friday.

The suspects were detained late Thursday and early Friday following police raids on their residences, part of an investigation launched by the Kocaeli Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

HDP officials Erkan Şık, Kadir Demir, Menderes Yıldız, Deniz Atalay, Kadir Daşdemir, Erol Ada, Arif Demirkaya and Seyyat Kaya were detained in Kocaeli, while Şehmuz Işık, Deniz Serhat and Cihan Kavçin were detained in İstanbul.

Police also raided the Anatolia Association of Solidarity and Assistance for Families of Missing Persons (ANYAKAY-DER) headquarters in İstanbul late on Thursday, seizing computers and books and detaining a number of the association’s executives and members, local media reports said.

Bahattin Karatoprak and Evin Yılmaz were also detained by gendarmes in the eastern province of Erzurum. The detainees were then sent to the district gendarmerie command.

Meanwhile, 17 people were detained by police in the southern province of Adana on charges of “attending protests and spreading propaganda for the People’s Protection Units [YPG] on social media,” as part of an investigation launched by the Adana Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, according to Turkish media reports.

Ankara views the Kurdish YPG militia as the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a deadly war against the Turkish state that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has increased its crackdown on Kurds especially after the collapse of Ankara’s reconciliation process with the outlawed PKK in 2015.

Turkish authorities had conducted direct talks with Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU, for over two years until the summer of 2015, when the death of two police officers near the Syrian border became the official reason for its collapse.

Since then, there have been continuing clashes between the PKK and Turkish security forces. More than 40,000 people, including 5,500 security force members, have been killed in four decades of fighting between the Turkish state and the PKK.

Both the AKP and its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), frequently accuse HDP, the second-largest opposition group in parliament, of ties to the PKK. The party denies the government’s claim and says it is working to achieve a peaceful solution to Turkey’s so-called Kurdish issue.

The Kurdish issue, a term prevalent in Turkey’s public discourse, refers to the demand for equal rights by the country’s Kurdish population and their struggle for recognition.

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