ANKARA – Turkish security forces detained four provincial co-chairs of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) on Thursday after fresh raids in Diyarbakir province, according to the party.
“Following a long-lasting search and raid on our provincial office in Amed and Yenisehir [central district] office, our co-chairs were detained,” the HDP said in a tweet.
The police raided the HDP headquarters in the Kurdish majority province of Diyarbakir and in its Yenisehir district, confiscating documents and banners linked to the PKK, a judicial source, who requested anonymity, said.
They detained the party’s Diyarbakir co-chairs Hulya Alokmen Uyanik and Zeyyat Ceylan, as well as Yenisehir co-chairs Remziye Sizici and Kasim Kaya, the source said.
“There is no logical reason for them [Turkish security forces] to search the provincial building which is kept under their surveillance for 24 hours,” said HDP Diyarbakir lawmaker Semra Guzel, referring to regular gathering of a number of parents in front of the HDP offices, claiming their children have been abducted by the PKK.
The parents have called on the HDP to play a role in returning their children.
“Political conspiratory operations have been carried out against our party in various ways for a long time,” the HDP’s Women’s Council spokesperson Ayse Acar Basaran said during a news conference.
The raids “once again demonstrate that the HDP is banned from doing politics,” she added.
The reason behind the fresh raids remains unclear but the state-owned Anadolu Agency reported that security forces found many documents, including posters of Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and its members.
The PKK, a Kurdish armed group fighting for the increased rights of Kurds in Turkey, is considered a terrorist organisation by Ankara.
Turkey has long accused the HDP of being the political wing of the group. The HDP, however, denies any links to the PKK.
In recent years, Turkish security forces have conducted regular raids against the HDP, detaining and arresting scores of its members and officials. Most of them have been charged with links to the PKK.
Last month, prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 82 people, including a mayor and several former lawmakers from the HDP who are accused of involvement in 2014 protests that left 37 dead.
The HDP is Turkey’s second-largest opposition group in parliament.
Of the 65 HDP mayors returned in the 2019 local elections, 47 have now been replaced by unelected officials, with some detained on terror charges, the party says.