Nuray Özdoğan, co-spokesperson for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) law and human rights commissions, has said 295 people were detained and 61 were arrested in several investigations over the course of a month as part of a crackdown on the HDP, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported, citing the Bianet news website.
A total of 143 people were detained as part of a Diyarbakır-based operation that was conducted in 21 provinces on April 25. The detentions, ordered by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, came three weeks before critical elections on May 14 that could extend Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s two-decade rule.
Police on May 2 detained at least 32 people in raids in İstanbul in another operation targeting Kurds.
Nineteen suspects were detained on April 29 as part of an investigation launched by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
According to Özdoğan, several members of the HDP were also detained and some of them were arrested in Edirne, Muş, Eskişehir and Şanlıurfa.
Parliamentary candidates Müslüm Koyun and Ayten Dönmez from the opposition Green Left Party (YSP) were among the people who were arrested on terrorism-related charges ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections.
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 links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which the party denies.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.
The HDP said in March that it would not field a presidential candidate in the May 14 elections, giving tacit support to Erdoğan’s main rival, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the joint presidential candidate of an opposition alliance of six parties.
The party announced in late April that it would support Kılıçdaroğlu.
The HDP, which faces a closure case on terrorism charges, will run in the elections under the banner of the YSP, to avoid the risks of the party’s closure before the elections.