New wave of arrests hits Turkey's pro-Kurdish party ahead of convention

An HDP lawmaker said the Turkish government was at war and fomenting enmity toward the Kurdish people.
author_image Ari Khalidi

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) - Turkish police on Friday arrested a dozen pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) officials and prosecutors issued a warrant for their Co-leader Serpil Kemalbay as the party prepares for a convention this weekend.

Police in the cities of Istanbul, Izmir, and Diyarbakir raided HDP affiliates' homes in the latest wave of a clampdown by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's administration on the Kurdish movement that began in late 2016.

Among the arrested were Professor Onur Hamzaoglu, a spokesperson for the Peoples' Democratic Congress (HDK), Secretary General of the Revolutionary Party Musa Piroglu, spokesperson of the Platform for the Socialist Solidarity (SODAP) Kezban Konuckcu, the Green Left Party co-chairs Naci Sonmez and Eylem Tuncaeli, and Socialist Assembly of Women members.

HDP, the country's second-largest opposition bloc, is a coalition of the leftist, progressive groups mentioned.

Kemalbey herself expected to be arrested after an Ankara prosecutor issued a warrant for her over condemnation of the Turkish assault on the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in Syria.

The Ankara government accused both the Syrian Kurds with a de facto autonomy and the HDP of being extensions of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

"We shall respond to the arbitrary attacks on our components' co-chairs and spokespersons by nurturing solidarity and democracy," she tweeted.

Deputy co-chair of HDP's sister Democratic Regions Party (DBP), Hacer Ozdemir, also was arrested in Diyarbakir, the Kurdistan 24 bureau there reported.

Police earlier this week detained DBP Co-chair Mehmet Arslan over his criticism of Ankara's now three-weeks-long undeclared war on the Syrian Kurds which has so far killed over 150, according to medical sources in Afrin.

HDP's current Co-leader Selahattin Demirtas, his former colleague, Figen Yuksekdag, both remain imprisoned along with eight lawmakers, 80 mayors, and over seven thousands party members.

At a press conference in Ankara, lawmaker Sirri Sureyya Onder said Turkey was at war, and that the Erdogan government was trying to legitimize it.

"They are engaged in an absolute hostility toward the Kurdish people and attempting to hide the savagery of the war," Onder said.

Editing by Nadia Riva