11 medical association members investigated for criticism of Afrin offensive

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The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Monday launched an investigation into 11 cenral council members of the Turkish Medical Association over their critical messages on Turkey’s military operation in the Kurdish-controlled Afrin region of Syria.

The decision to investigate came after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lambasted central council members of the Turkish Medical Association for their statement criticizing the Afrin operation. Following Erdoğan’s speech, the Interior Ministry on Sunday filed criminal complaints against the council members.

Turkey on Jan. 20 launched a military operation in Afrin, which is controlled by the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD). Turkey sees the PYD as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The Turkish Interior Ministry announced on Monday that 311 people have been arrested so far for “spreading terrorist propaganda” on social media concerning Turkey’s operation in Afrin.

The Turkish government has reacted strongly to people who oppose the operation, and prosecutor’s offices have launched investigations into those who share social media messages critical of the operation. Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) members and journalists have been the target of the witch-hunt against Afrin operation critics.

President Erdoğan on Jan. 21 warned the 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.

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

“I am calling on the police. They should show no mercy. The government has already given them the authority. They [police] should leave mercy aside against those who take to the streets [to protest the Afrin operation]. I even say: They should kill whoever takes to the streets. They should shoot them in the head even if they’re a member of Parliament, a businessman or a journalist,” Şentürk said during a radio program.

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