The number of people arrested after being detained along with more than 100 activists, lawyers and politicians in a mass operation targeting Kurds across Turkey earlier this week has now reached 28, while 31 were released, the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency reported on Friday.
A total of 130 people were detained as part of a Diyarbakır-based operation that was conducted in 21 provinces on Tuesday. The detentions, ordered by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, came three weeks before critical elections slated for May 14 that could extend President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s two-decade rule.
According to Mezopotamya, after journalists Mehmetşah Oruç, Beritan Canözer, Abdurrahman Gök and Remzi Akkaya were arrested on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” on Thursday, eight more people were arrested on the same accusation.
Canözer is a reporter for JinNews, the only all-female news agency in Turkey. Gök is an editor at the Mezopotamya news agency, and Oruç is a reporter at Mezopotamya, while Barut also works as a reporter.
The number of those arrested after Tuesday’s operation has reached 28 following the arrest of 16 more people, including politicians Hakim Kaya and Şahin Biçimli, on the same charges, Mezopotamya said, adding that 18 had been released from detention.
The Amed City Theater, whose members Yavuz Akkuzu, Özcan Ateş and Elvan Koçer Yıldırım were among the detainees, announced the stage actors’ release on social media on Thursday night.
“We now have our actor friends who were detained. We invite everyone to our play “Wê Hesab Neyê Dayîn” tomorrow and the day after!” they said in a tweet.
Hevalên me yên lîstikvan tev hatin berdan. Sibe û disbe (în û şemî) lîstika me ya “Wê Hesab Neyê Dayîn” heye. Em li benda we ne! Gözaltındaki oyuncu arkadaşlarımızı aldık. Yarın ve öbür gün (Cume ve cumartesi) “Wê Hesab Neyê Dayîn” oyunumuza herkesi bekleriz! pic.twitter.com/dgGAeOxUyg
— Amed Şehir Tiyatrosu / Şanoya Bajêr a Amedê (@amedtiyatro) April 27, 2023
Meanwhile, the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD), whose members Üzüm Vurgun, Serhat Hezer and Burhan Artan are among those arrested on terrorism-related charges, read out a statement to the press in front of the Diyarbakır Courthouse.
“Lawyer consultations are being restricted, confidentiality decisions are being made, offices are being searched unlawfully. … Currently, three of our members are under arrest as a result of these irregularities. As the Association of Lawyers for Freedom … we have never given up and never will,” ÖHD co-chair Ekin Yeter, who read the statement, said.
The protest saw the participation of many lawyers, including from the Diyarbakır bar association, who shouted “ÖHD did not remain silent, [and] will not remain silent,” “Pressure can’t break us” and “Kurdistan will be the grave of fascism.”
Mass detention of Kurds is part of ‘joint plot’ by Erdoğan, two ministers: Demirtaş
Answering the Cumhuriyet daily’s questions through his lawyers, jailed Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş claimed Friday that the operation was a “joint plot” by President Erdoğan, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ.
Referring to some of the detainees, Demirtaş, former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), added: “[These are] individuals who have been involved in politics in our party or [served as] our volunteers for years. What happened that made these individuals become ‘hardcore terrorists’ just 19 days before the elections?”
In its report on Tuesday’s operation, TRT said police had detained people suspected of financing the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) or luring new members to the group. It also involved suspects who allegedly transferred money to the PKK from municipalities held by Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party, the 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.