Turkey arrests Kurdish party leader over remarks on Afrin

Arslan had slammed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for sanctifying "death and blood" over the latter's praise of martyrdom as the news of Turkish soldiers killed at the Afrin front came.
author_image Ari Khalidi

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish police on Tuesday arrested the Co-leader of the Democratic Regions Party (DBP) Mehmet Arslan in the city of Diyarbakir over his criticism of Ankara’s now three-weeks-long undeclared war on the Kurdish region of Afrin in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava).

Kurdistan 24’s bureau in Diyarbakir reported that police arrested Arslan in front of DBP’s headquarters there.

The privately-owned opposition daily Evrensel said Arslan was arrested because of an interview he gave to the newspaper last month about Ankara’s invasion of Afrin, where Turkish aerial and ground attacks have killed 148 civilians and wounded 365 others.

In that interview, Arslan slammed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for sanctifying “death and blood” over the latter’s praise of martyrdom as the news of Turkish soldiers killed at the Afrin front came.

The DBP leader also said that Erdogan had two objectives at the start of the civil war in Syria seven years ago; making sure the Kurds do not get a self-ruling entity and the toppling of his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad.

“Now, he is content with Assad staying, and the primary target is the Kurds,” Arslan had said.

Police had physically shut Arslan’s mouth at the DBP building’s entrance in late January when he and his party members were preparing to read a statement condemning Turkey’s war on Syrian Kurds.

The Interior Ministry announced on Monday the arrest of 573 people for their criticism on social media or demonstrations against the military offensive in Afrin since the beginning of the campaign.

DBP is a sister party to the country’s second-largest opposition bloc the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Prosecutors have launched probes into seven HDP lawmakers for their solidarity with Afrin’s people.

The Erdogan administration has paralyzed the HDP with an ongoing crackdown, arrest, and imprisonment of thousands, including their leadership, eight lawmakers, 80 mayors, hundreds of local officials, and over 7,000 members.

Seven HDP MPs have also been kicked out of the Parliament.

DBP’s other Co-leader Sebahat Tuncel remains in prison since late 2016.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany