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Turkey arrests pro-Kurdish party co-chair, provincial head on terrorism charges

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A Turkish court has ruled for the arrest of the co-chair and the Diyarbakır provincial co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP) on charges of “membership in an armed terrorist organization,” Voice of America (VOA) Turkish service reported on Tuesday.

The arrests come after Turkish police last week detained 14 members of the party, including its co-chair Keskin Bayındır, in simultaneous raids on DBP buildings and other locations across 10 provinces, including İstanbul, Ankara, İzmir and Diyarbakır.

After giving statements to a prosecutor in Diyarbakır, Bayındır and the party’s Diyarbakır provincial co-chair Hayrettin Altun were sent to court for arrest, while the other suspects were released pending trial under judicial supervision.

The pro-Kurdish party officials are accused of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

Lawmakers and officials from the DBP and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) – the second largest opposition party in the Turkish Parliament – who were waiting outside the courthouse applauded and shouted slogans against the decision to arrest Bayındır and Altun, VOA said.

HDP parliamentary group deputy chairperson Meral Danış Beştaş then issued a statement to the press, saying the decision was an indication of how the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), were disturbed by the DBP and used the judiciary against the party for their own purposes.

“Never before in the history of Turkey has the judiciary been so trampled on,” Beştaş said, adding that the suspects were asked such “embarrassing” questions as why did they attend the issuance of specific press statements and rallies and give certain interviews.

The arrests took place as Turkey heads to presidential and parliamentary elections in June 2023.

A government crackdown on Kurdish parties and politicians in Turkey reached new heights following a coup attempt in the country in July 2016.

Dozens of democratically elected Kurdish mayors were removed from office, while a large number of Kurdish politicians, including the former co-chairs of the HDP, were jailed following the coup attempt.

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