Investigation launched into HDP’s new co-chairperson over Afrin criticism

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The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Monday launched an investigation into newly elected pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chairperson Pervin Buldan and HDP deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder over remarks on a Turkish military operation in the Afrin region of Syria during the party congress in Ankara on Sunday, Cumhuriyet reported.

According to a statement from the prosecutor’s office, the investigation was initiated for putting posters of outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan in the congress hall; making statements that tried to portray the Turkish military operation in Afrin as being against the Kurdish people; praising the leader of a terrorist organization; disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization; and inciting hatred and hostility among the people.

The Turkish military and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters launched Operation Olive Branch in Afrin against the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey sees as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have reacted strongly to people who oppose the operation, and prosecutor’s offices have initiated investigations into those who share social media messages critical of the operation.

President Erdoğan on Jan. 21 warned the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) not to take to the streets to protest the operation in Afrin: “You are being closely followed. If you try to take to the streets, know that our security forces will be at your neck.”

“If anyone is in the streets upon calls [from the HDP], they will pay dearly for it. This is a national fight, and whoever opposes us will be crushed,” Erdoğan added.

Turkey’s Interior Ministry on Monday announced that 474 people have been detained on terror charges due to their posts on social media critical of the Turkish military incursion in the northern Syrian town of Afrin, while 192 have been detained for taking part in street demonstrations protesting the operation.

Kral FM radio host Ali Şentürk, known as “Afrikalı Ali,” called on security forces to kill anybody who criticizes Turkey’s operation in Afrin.

Yusuf Ozan, a presenter for the pro-government Akit TV, on Sunday targeted the Cumhuriyet daily over a story it ran on the Afrin operation in Syria, saying Cumhuriyet journalists deserve to be executed.

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