Eight Kurdish politicians, including Sadi Özdemir, who is almost totally disabled, have been arrested on terrorism charges in the northwestern Turkish province of Tekirdağ, local media reported on Thursday.
Seyit Soydan, Murat Mutlu, Hüseyin Güzel, Ömer Güven, Emin Şen, Sadet Fırat, Emin Orhan and Özdemir were arrested on Thursday on charges that include “membership in a [terrorist organization]” and “disseminating propaganda for a [terrorist organization],” according to Turkish media reports.
Their arrests came after 36 politicians, including provincial and district co-chairs of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), were detained on June 3, as part of an investigation launched by the Tekirdağ Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
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, the EU and the US, and has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
The party 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 19-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.”
Hundreds of HDP politicians, including the party’s former co-chairs, are behind bars on terrorism charges, while most of the 65 HDP mayors elected in the predominantly Kurdish Southeast in 2019 have been replaced by government-appointed trustees.