Dozens of people, including provincial and district co-chairs and mayors from Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), have been detained with some of them being arrested on terror charges, Turkish media reported on Tuesday.
According to an Ihlas News Agency (IHA) report on Tuesday, a total of 21 HDP members were detained as part of an operation carried out by police officers from the counter-terrorism unit (TEM) of Kocaeli Police Department.
Detentions were carried out after police officers early on Tuesday simultaneously raided houses of the pro-Kurdish party members in Kocaeli’s Gebze, Darica, Izmit and Dilovasi districts.
HDP’s Kocaeli provincial co-chair Leyla Aygun and Gebze district co-chairs Ebubekir Coban and Meryem Uslu are reportedly among those detained by the officers on charges that include “making propaganda for a terrorist organization.”
Police officers also reportedly seized three computer hard drives and a laptop as a result of a research conducted in Kocaeli provincial building of the pro-Kurdish party.
Turkish media also reported that police officers further raided a number of district buildings of the HDP in the province and attached the Turkish flag on the boards in those buildings.
Diken news portal reported on Tuesday that Turkish police also arrested Ayfer Yilmaz, HDP co-chair of Istanbul’s Esenyurt district, along with six others.
The seven, who had been detained over the illegal distribution of pamphlets in Esenyurt’s central Cumhuriyet Square on Sunday, were arrested on charges that include making terrorist propaganda.
Three pro-Kurdish district mayors from Turkey’s southeastern Mardin province were also arrested by a local court on Tuesday after being detained as part of a terror investigation conducted by Mardin Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Mayors Nalan Ozaydin, Gulistan Oncu and Mulkiye Esmez from the Mazidagi, Savur and Derik districts, respectively, were previously removed from their offices by the Interior Ministry due to the investigation and were replaced with officials appointed by the ruling AK Party (AKP) government.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has intensified its crackdown targeting the pro-Kurdish politicians in recent months.
Out of 65 HDP mayors who won their offices through democratic elections in March, 24 have been replaced with state-appointed trustees with 13 of them having been arrested on terror-related offenses.
The ruling AKP has long accused the pro-Kurdish HDP of harboring sympathies and acting in the interest of the Kurdish separatists in Turkey who are known as the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Ankara regards the PKK, an armed group that has been fighting for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey for over 30 years, as a terrorist organization.