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32 more detained in operation targeting Kurds ahead of presidential runoff

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Turkish law enforcement on Thursday detained at least 32 people in southeastern Turkey in operations targeting Kurds ahead of a presidential runoff on May 28, local media reported.

Turkish police and gendarmes carried out a series of raids in Hakkari and Urfa provinces, resulting in the detention of at least 32 individuals.

Thirty people were detained in Hakkari, while an additional two were taken into custody in the Halfeti district of southeastern Şanlıurfa province.

The detainees, who include members of pro-Kurdish political parties, face accusations of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “membership in a terrorist organization.” They are currently being held at provincial and district police departments.

The pro-Kurdish Green Left Party (YSP), which achieved a substantial vote count in the cities where the detentions occurred, emerged victorious by securing all three seats in Hakkari in the elections held on May 14.

These latest developments follow a similar pattern to recent events reported on Tuesday, when police detained more than 65 people in various provinces across the country. The operations primarily targeted Kurds, including members of the pro-Kurdish YSP and executives from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK). Such detentions have drawn criticism from international observers who question the use of broad anti-terror laws to suppress political dissent.

With the May 28 runoff just days away, tension is mounting in Turkey’s political landscape. Incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan failed to secure a decisive victory in the May 14 election, receiving 49.52 percent of the vote compared to his secular rival, Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who garnered 44.88 percent. The Public Alliance, led by Erdoğan, secured a majority in the parliamentary elections.

The HDP, accused by Erdoğan of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), faces an ongoing closure case on terrorism charges. To circumvent potential closure before the elections, the HDP ran under the banner of the YSP, securing 61 seats in parliament. The HDP had previously announced its support for Kılıçdaroğlu in the runoff.

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 abortive putsch.

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