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 48, while 89 were released, the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency reported on Saturday.
A total of 143 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, the number of those arrested after Tuesday’s operation has reached 48 following the arrest of 20 more people on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization,” Mezopotamya said, adding that 58 more had been released from detention on top of 31 released earlier.
Six people, including lawyer Gülistan Ataş, are still in custody, Mezopotamya said.
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.