Turkish police on Sunday detained 16 people at the third youth congress of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in southeastern Diyarbakır province, Diken news site reported.
The suspects were taken into police custody following an investigation on charges of “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organisation,’’ the site said.
The HDP, Turkey’s second largest opposition party, held its third youth congress in the town of Kayapınar in the Kurdish-majority province in Diyarbakır, with attendance for the party’s co-chair Mithat Sancar.
Sancar, while addressing the crowds on Sunday, spoke of HDP’s “determination to open the path for equality, freedom and democracy in the country,’’ Diken said, while referring to a party-initiated “great peace process.’’
Ankara has in recent years intensified a crackdown on the HDP, which it accuses of harbouring sympathies for and acting in the interest of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey for 40 years and designated a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. The HDP denies the charges.
Since 2019, 48 of the 65 elected HDP mayors in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish eastern and southeastern regions have been removed from office by the Interior Ministry, citing “terror” investigations,” and the party is facing closure over alleged terror links.
An indictment submitted to Turkey’s Constitutional Court earlier this year calls for the closure of the HDP, while urging a political ban on 500 party members, and a cautionary freeze on the opposition party’s bank account.
The party’s former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ have been behind bars for five years on terror charges. The pair deny the claims.