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Published On: Tue, Feb 14th, 2017

Turkey Detains 600 Over Alleged PKK Links – HDP Targeted Before Referendum

nsnbc : Police in Turkey detained more than an additional 600 persons for alleged links to the PKK and other Kurdish militants. Among the 600 plus detained are numerous members of the leftist HDP which claims the mass arrests are aimed to silence the opposition in the run up to the referendum on the introduction of an administrative presidential system in April.

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On April 16 Turkish voters will be voting in a referendum to decide whether to accept or reject the “constitutional reform” package that was paced through parliament while the country was (and still is) in a state of emergency. The referendum itself will also be held while the country still is in a state of emergency.

Tens of thousands of people have been arrested since the failed military mystery coup on July 15, 2016. The coup was blamed on the self-exiled Islamic cleric Fetullah Gülen and his Hizmet network, as well as on the USA who is hosting Gülen. Fetullah Gülen, formerly a close associate of President Erdogan, is known for hos close ties to Turkish as well as NATO intelligence networks. However, those who suffered most severely from the post-coup crackdown and the purges were Kurds and the leftist opposition HDP. The party reports that some 5,000 members of the People’s Democratic party (HDP) have been arrested.

On Tuesday at dawn, counter-terrorism police units detained another 86 people over alleged ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group in dawn raids across Turkey, in addition to 544 who were detained the previous day. The HDP’s Executive Committee issued a statement saying that “The basic goal of these operations… is to hold the referendum without the HDP”.

Its statement, released before Tuesday’s arrests, said more than 300 of its members and executives had been detained on Monday, bringing those held this year to around 1,200. A dozen of its lawmakers and tens of Kurdish mayors from a sister party have been jailed pending trial. In May 2016, parliament voted to strip lawmakers of their immunity, paving the way for the arrest of HDP legislators.

In November 2016, 12 HDP lawmakers, including the two co-leaders, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yükesdag, were arrested on charges of links to the PKK which they deny. The government accuses the HDP of having links to the PKK, a charge that the HDP denies. The government accuses the HDP, parliament’s second biggest opposition party, of being a political extension of the PKK. The HDP denies direct links with the PKK and says it wants a peaceful settlement in Turkish Kurdistan, the largely Kurdish southeast.

The HDP is particularly strong in predominantly Kurdish areas. It played an important role in brokering a ceasefire between the State and the PKK and peace talks. The HDP criticized the AKP government in 2015, when the government unilaterally ended the ceasefire and the peace talks just as the PKK was willing to make major concessions.

CH/L – nsnbc 14.02.2017

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