The former head of the bar association in the predominantly Kurdish province of Diyarbakır has said the detention of more than 100 activists, lawyers and journalists on Tuesday was made without any official charges against the detainees.
Mehmet Emin Aktar, the former chairman of the Diyarbakır Bar Association and also a parliamentary candidate from the Green Left Party (YSP), during a Tuesday program on Radyo Sputnik spoke about the operation that was conducted just three weeks before critical elections slated for May 14 that could extend President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s two-decade rule. More than 120 people across 21 provinces have been detained as part of the Diyarbakır-based operation.
The lawyer said he witnessed the house search and detention of a colleague who specializes in press law on Tuesday morning and realized that the accusations section of the relevant warrant was empty.
“A decision to search his home and office and detain him was made because there was a strong suspicion of a crime, but there was no specific accusation. My friend put an annotation on the warrant because the reason for the search and detention wasn’t clear,” Aktar added.
He further stated that the authorities seized his colleague’s computer and case files and will probably say “We got bags full of documents,” using them to come up with a claim against the lawyer.
“I have never seen such a meaningless, baseless, and arbitrary investigation before. The opposition has remained silent about this. Unfortunately, everyone is silent about what is happening, and we are being treated as the usual suspects,” Aktar said.
In its report on Tuesday’s operation, state media TRT said police had detained people suspected of financing the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) or luring new members to the group.
Deemed a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community, the PKK has been waging a decades-long war against the state for greater autonomy for the Kurdish minority.
The operation also involved suspects who allegedly transferred money to the PKK from municipalities held by Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), TRT said.
The HDP — the second-largest opposition party in parliament — is widely seen as a kingmaker in the tight race.
Erdoğan has often accused the HDP of alleged links to the PKK, which the party denies.
The HDP said last month it would not field a presidential candidate in the May 14 elections, giving tacit support to Erdoğan’s main rival, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.