Turkish prosecutors have issued detention warrants for more than 40 members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in a Tekirdağ-based operation conducted in 10 provinces across the country, the Mezopotamya news agency reported on Friday.
The warrants were issued as part of an investigation launched by the Tekirdağ Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
According to Mezopotamya, among those detained by the police as part of the operation are the party’s Edirne Provincial Co-Chair Melahat Çelik, former Tekirdağ Provincial Co-Chair Alev Ateş, Kırıkkale Provincial Co-Chair Yakup Aslan, the Marmara Association for Solidarity with Prisoner and Convict Families (MATUHAYDER) director Cihan Kartal and the Migrants’ Association for Social Cooperation and Culture (Göç-Der) director Şeref Kaya, along with Abdurrahman Öztürk, Kenan Yıldız, Ömer Güven, Hüseyin Gözen, Emin Şen, Ercan Ogeday, Ramazan Kırkpınar and İrfan Hülakü.
As part of the operation carried out early on Friday, the police also searched the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK) headquarters in İstanbul’s Beyoğlu district and seized some materials, Mezopotamya said.
“Our eyes have been opened with the Tekirdağ detention frenzy, among which there are some of our co-chairs. Many of our friends are in custody. They’re trying to take away our right to do politics. We continue to struggle, to resist. Not long now…” the HDP’s İstanbul Provincial Co-Chair Ferhat Encü said in a tweet.
Aralarında bir çok ilimizin eşbaşkanlarının olduğu Tekirdağ merkezli bir gözaltı furyası ile gözlerimizi açtık. Çok sayıda arkadaşımız gözaltında. Siyaset yapma hakkımız elimizden alınmaya çalışıyor. Biz de direnmeye mücadele etmeye devam ediyoruz. Az kaldı…
— Ferhat Encu (@FerhatEncu) June 3, 2022
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), together with its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), have long portrayed the HDP as the political front of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the EU and the US, and has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
The party denies links to the PKK and says it is working to achieve a peaceful solution to Turkey’s Kurdish issue and is only coming under attack because of its strong opposition to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s 19-year rule.
The political and legal assault on the HDP, which intensified after a truce between Kurdish militants and the AKP government broke down in 2015, grew even stronger after Erdoğan survived a coup attempt in July 2016 that was followed by a sweeping political crackdown.
The party currently faces a closure case on charges of “attempting to destroy the indivisibility between the state and the people.”
Hundreds of HDP politicians, including the party’s former co-chairs, are behind bars on terrorism charges, while most of the 65 HDP mayors elected in the predominantly Kurdish Southeast in 2019 have been replaced by government-appointed trustees.