Friday 2 December 2016

Pro-Kurdish MPs arrested in Turkey

Susan Fraser in Ankara

Published 05/11/2016 | 02:30

Police officers detain supporters of pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, HDP, as they protest the detentions of Kurdish lawmakers, in Ankara, Turkey. Photo: AP
Police officers detain supporters of pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, HDP, as they protest the detentions of Kurdish lawmakers, in Ankara, Turkey. Photo: AP

Turkish authorities detained 12 pro-Kurdish members of parliament for questioning in terror-related probes yesterday, drawing expressions of concern from Europe and the US, while a car bomb attack in the largest Kurdish city killed nine people.

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Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, the co-chairs of the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party, or HDP, were among those rounded up in the middle of the night. They were later ordered to be held in custody pending trial on terror-related charges along with six other legislators.

The courts released three others on condition that they report regularly to authorities.

The detentions provoked worried reactions from outside Turkey. The EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, expressed concern on Twitter, saying the EU was in contact with authorities and adding that she had called a meeting of EU ambassadors in Ankara.

Tom Malinowski, the US assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labour, tweeted that he was "deeply troubled" by the detentions, adding: "When taking legal action against elected reps, democracies have higher duty to justify actions & preserve confidence in justice."

Governments in Norway, Sweden and Denmark summoned their Turkish ambassadors to explain the arrests of the pro-Kurdish lawmakers.

Hours after the overnight detentions, there was a large explosion in the south-eastern city of Diyarbakir, near the riot police building. Two police officers and seven civilians were killed, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said up to 100 people were wounded, though most were released after treatment.

Yildirim also said one of the assailants was "caught dead," but did not elaborate.

The Diyarbakir governor's office said the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, claimed the attack, which Anadolu said was carried out with a minibus laden with a ton of explosives.

The blast caused a large crater near the police building and damaged several buildings and businesses nearby.

Irish Independent

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