Turkey arrests over 150 Kurdish politicians, journalists, and activists

Among those arrested was a photographer who documented the shooting to death by Turkish police of a Kurdish student.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish authorities on Tuesday arrested at least 151 people, among them activists, members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and six journalists across eight provinces.

The sweeping new wave of an ongoing two-year-long crackdown came after operations last week saw 140 taken into custody, as Turkey prepares to go to the ballot box in less than six months for local elections.

Kurdistan 24’s bureau in Diyarbakir reported that the detentions were part of an investigation into the Kurdish civic organizations in the city which the Turkish government ties to “terrorism.”

HDP said the arrests were “yet another step to institutionalize fascism” by the right-wing coalition of the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Tayyip Erdogan and its junior partner in the Parliament, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

According to a press release on the party’s website, police entered multiple houses “by breaking their doors and putting guns on the head of those wanted by prosecutors” in Diyarbakir, Mardin, Batman, Sirnak, Urfa, Van, Mersin, and Istanbul provinces.

Diyarbakir’s central government-appointed Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office wrote in a statement that those targeted were affiliates of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group designated terrorist by Turkey and its Western allies for leading a decades-long armed uprising for Kurdish self-rule.

There were conflicting numbers regarding the number HDP gave of those arrested as the Turkish Interior Ministry said 90 were under arrest while the state news agency Anadolu put the figure at 158.

Among those detained were HDP’s Diyarbakir provincial Co-chair Mehmet Serif Camci, journalists Kibriye Evren, Abdurrahman Gok, Semiha Alankus, Cihan Olmez, and Islamic theologian Nurettin Turgay.

Gok, a photographer, working for local media, is known in Turkey for documenting frame by frame the shooting to death by Turkish police of student, Kemal Korkut, 23, who was attending Kurdish New Year (Newroz) celebrations in Diyarbakir last year.

According to the HDP’s accounts, figures show the number of political detainees and prisoners in Turkey exceed 50,000.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany