Turkish police detain 2 leaders & 12 MPs of pro-Kurdish HDP party

Selahattin Demirtas, co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), talks during a gathering to protest against the arrest of the city's popular two joint mayors for alleged links to terrorism, in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, Turkey, October 27, 2016. © Sertac Kayar
Two co-leaders of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and at least 12 of its MPs have been arrested as police raided homes in Ankara and Kurdish-majority areas in eastern Turkey. The arrests are linked to “terrorist propaganda” cases, Reuters said.

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The Turkish Interior Ministry has published a list of 11 of the detained HDP members, stating that they had been arrested on the orders of the local prosecutor. Another two MPs slated for arrest were found to be outside the country, and no decision has yet been made on whether to detain two more members.

The lawmakers were detained after “failing to appear for a summons to testify as part of a counter-terrorism investigation,” Anadolu state news agency reported.

The testimonies are connected to “terrorist propaganda” probes related to the Kurdish militant group PKK, and to the pro-Kurdish protests with violent clashes of October 2014, which HDP co-chair Demirtas is accused of inciting.

The MPs were required to show up for testimonies after their parliamentary immunity was lifted thanks to the law passed in the parliament in March. The two HDP leaders reportedly vowed not to testify.

Later on Friday, Turkish pro-Kurdish opposition lawmaker Imam Tascıer wrote on Twitter that he had also been detained. He became the 12th lawmaker arrested in the terror probe.

Police broke into the home of HPD co-leader Figen Yüksekdağ in Diyarbakir and detained her early Friday, while Selahattin Demirtas was detained in his Ankara house.

Figen Yüksekdağ © Wikipedia

The party’s lawyers told Reuters that 11 other HDP parliamentarians were also arrested in the raids, with two more wanted for arrest. Local media reported that other than in Ankara and Diyarbakir, the arrests have been made in the eastern and southeastern Turkish cities of Hakkari, Mardin and Batman.

Those detained included HDP’s deputy speaker in the Turkish parliament, RIA Novosti reported.

"Deputy speaker of parliament Pervin Buldan has also been detained in Ankara," the HDP representative was quoted as saying.

The arrests were accompanied by reports of a social media blackout in the country, although some of the MPs managed to livestream the arrests.

According to Turkey Blocks, an independent organization which monitors incidents of Internet censorship in Turkey, access to Twitter, Facebook and social messaging app WhatsApp has been severely restricted by the major providers, adding that “the majority of internet users [are] affected at the time of the measurement.”

It added, however, that the shutdown so far has not affected the users of smaller providers.

The HDP responded to the raids through social media, calling on the international community to “react against the Erdogan regime’s coup,” Reuters quotes.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur, Kati Piri, tweeted: “Very bad news from Turkey. Again. Now HDP members of parliament are being detained.”

The HDP, which is in strong opposition to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government and supports the Kurdish- and other minorities, has been accused of having links to PKK, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization.