Turkish police on Wednesday detained at least seven people including an official from the country’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the western province of İzmir, the Artı Gerçek news website reported.
HDP Central Executive Board (MYK) member İdil Uğurlu is among those detained in addition to several Kurdish rights activists and HDP members.
It was not clear on what charges the detainees, who were taken to the İzmir Police Station for questioning, were taken into custody.
The detentions took place at a time when Turkey is heading to presidential and parliamentary elections on May 14 in which the HDP is widely seen as a kingmaker.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), together with its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), have long portrayed the HDP as the political front of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community.
The HDP denies links to the PKK and says it is working to achieve a peaceful solution to Turkey’s Kurdish issue and is only coming under attack because of its strong opposition to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s 20-year rule.
The political and legal assault on the HDP, which intensified after a truce between Kurdish militants and the AKP government broke down in 2015, grew even stronger after Erdoğan survived a coup attempt in July 2016 that was followed by a sweeping political crackdown.
The party currently faces a closure case on charges of “attempting to destroy the indivisibility between the state and the people.”
The HDP on Wednesday announced that it will not field its own presidential candidate in a move that was perceived as tacit support for Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the joint presidential candidate of an opposition alliance, which the HDP is not a part of.