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Dozens detained across Turkey in operations targeting pro-Kurdish DEM Party

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Turkish police have detained dozens of people in several provinces across the country, including İstanbul, as part of operations that mainly targeted members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (DEM), the Artı Gerçek news website reported on Wednesday.

Twenty-one people, including members of DEM’s party council and provincial and district organizations, were detained on Wednesday in İstanbul, where warrants had been issued for 25 people in total.

Among those detained in police raids in İstanbul were directors of the Marmara Association for Solidarity with Prisoner and Convict Families (MATUHAYDER) and DEM party council member Ünal Yusufoğlu.

The party’s İstanbul branch reacted to the detentions on X, saying they are part of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) “political slaughter operations” and promising a stronger fight against them.

The pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency reported that detention warrants were also issued for 19 people in the western province of İzmir as part of a similar operation. Members of the Social Freedom Party (TÖP), the Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP), the New Democratic Youth organization and the Halkevi (People’s House) were among 16 detained in the province, Mezopotamya said.

People’s House is a left-wing civil society organization that works for the improvement of healthcare, education and the environment as well as the promotion of the rights of women.

Three people including a DEM Party district co-chair were detained following house raids in the southern province of Antalya, while another was detained in Van in eastern Turkey as part of an investigation launched by the Bitlis Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

According to Turkish media reports, the detentions across the country were carried due to protests that erupted across Turkey in response to a local electoral authority’s decision to annul the victory of a pro-Kurdish candidate in Van and attempt to hand the mayorship to the ruling party’s runner-up.

The DEM Party’s Abdullah Zeydan had initially secured the post of mayor of the eastern province of Van by a wide margin in local elections on March 31.

He had garnered over 55 percent of the vote, but the regional electoral commission said he was ineligible to stand for election, attempting to hand city hall to a candidate from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling AKP who received only 27 percent of the vote.

After violent protests against his ouster erupted in Van, which sits on Turkey’s eastern border with Iran, and spread across the country, Turkey’s Supreme Election Council (YSK) approved an appeal made by the DEM Party against the decision that annulled Zeydan’s victory. Following the approval of the appeal, the mandate to serve as Van’s mayor was given to Zeydan.

Erdoğan’s AKP suffered the worst defeat since its establishment in the March election, losing major cities and a significant portion of the vote across the country.

Pro-Kurdish party members or politicians and some of their supporters in Turkey are frequently accused of having links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a bloody campaign in Turkey’s southeast since 1984 and is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and its Western allies. They commonly face accusations of membership in or spreading propaganda on behalf of the PKK in their speeches and online commentary or attendance at events.

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