Forty-six suspects, including former mayors from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), were detained in morning raids across the country as part of a new investigation in connection with a trial concerning deadly protests in southeastern Turkey in 2014, local media reported on Tuesday.
The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued arrest warrants for 91 suspects as part of a new investigation into what is known as the Kobani protests, in which the protestors expressed their support for Kurdish fighters in the Syrian town of Kobani while accusing Ankara of failing to provide adequate help and of supporting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which had laid siege to the town.
According to a written statement released by the office, the suspects are accused of breaking Law No. 6415 on the Prevention of the Financing of Terrorism and membership in an armed terrorist organization.
As part of the investigation, police officers early on Tuesday detained 46 of the 91 suspects, including former HDP mayors, in an operation carried out in 13 provinces across Turkey, local media reports said.
The Kobani case, in which the defendants are former members of the HDP, stems from one of the darker episodes of the decade-long Syrian war.
Thirty-seven people died in violent demonstrations against the Turkish army’s inaction in the face of an ISIL offensive in the largely Kurdish northern Syrian town of Kobani in 2014.
Former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş had called for street protests in support of Kurdish fighters in Kobani while accusing Ankara of failing to provide adequate help to the town and of supporting ISIL.
The HDP accuses the government of provoking the deaths.
In the 3,500-page indictment, drafted more than six years after the protests and accepted by the court in January 2021, the defendants face various charges related to the protests that include 37 counts of homicide and disrupting the unity and territorial integrity of the state.
Twenty-eight of the 108 Kurdish politicians who are standing trial in the Kobani case for their alleged roles in deadly 2014 protests are currently in jail, including Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, also a former co-chairperson of the HDP.