Updated February 17, 2021, 8:54 am
- The Turkish police arrested more than 700 people across the country on Monday for alleged contacts with banned Kurdish activists.
- Leaders of the pro-Kurdish and second largest opposition party HDP are said to be among those arrested.
- One day before the arrest, the Turkish military discovered the bodies of 13 kidnapped Turks in a cave in northern Iraq.
The interior ministry in Ankara said the police had confiscated numerous weapons, documents and files.
The interior ministry in Ankara announced on Monday that the arrested are accused of having ties to the banned Kurdish workers’ party PKK. Among those arrested are provincial and district leaders of the pro-Kurdish and second largest opposition party HDP.
The HDP clearly rejects this again and again. A party spokeswoman first confirmed 139 arrests to the German Press Agency. Among them are at least one provincial chairman and twelve senior party officials. How many of the arrested HDP members were initially unclear.
Response to the killing of 13 kidnapped Turks in northern Iraq
What is clearer, however, is that Erdogan’s government reacted to the killing of 13 kidnapped Turks in northern Iraq with the arrest operation. In the northern Iraqi province of Dohuk, Turkey had already started a large-scale military operation against the PKK last Wednesday.
The captured Turks should also be freed, as Erdogan said on Monday.
The dead also include soldiers and police officers who were abducted by the PKK in 2015 and 2016.
The PKK rejects this and stated that they were killed in air strikes by the Turkish military and fighting.
Turkish government targets HDP
Meral Danis Bestas, HDP MP in the Turkish parliament, condemned the actions of the Turkish government against their party. Regarding every incident as a concept to attack the HDP is an attempt to cover up the facts, she wrote on Twitter.
The Turkish leadership had repeatedly verbally targeted the HDP in recent weeks. In connection with the Turks found dead, Erdogan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun wrote on Twitter on Sunday: “
The HDP is a political puppet acting on the orders of the PKK. We saw this fact again today.”
The HDP had previously sided with the protesters.
Erdogan accuses USA of supporting “terrorists”
The case of the 13 killed meanwhile also caused international controversy. Erdogan accused the US of supporting “terrorists” on Monday. Ankara also called in the US ambassador and protested against the US reaction to the incident, which Turkey believes was too weak.
The US Department of Defense initially said it regretted “the deaths of Turkish citizens,” but was awaiting confirmation of recent events. Erdogan called this declaration a “farce”. “You say that you do not support terrorists, but in fact you stand by their side or behind them,” said the Turkish head of state.
After the initial reluctance, clear words came from Washington about the incident. In a telephone conversation with his Turkish colleague Mevlüt Cavusoglu, Foreign Minister Antony Blinken expressed his condolences and emphasized that the US government believes that “PKK terrorists” are responsible for the deaths of the hostages, Ministry spokesman Ned Price said. Blinken emphasized the importance of the relations between the two countries and the common interest in the fight against terrorism.
Federal Foreign Office: “Terror cannot be justified by anything”
The USA and its western allies have declared the PKK a terrorist organization, but Washington is supporting the Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG) in Syria in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist militia. For Ankara, the YPG is a spin-off from the PKK.
A spokeswoman for the Federal Foreign Office said of the incident that “terror” cannot be “justified”. “In armed conflicts, it is imperative that international humanitarian law be respected.” (dpa / afp / mf)
Students from Boğaziçi University in Istanbul want to get rid of their director Melih Bulu. For this they took to the streets. Bulu was appointed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. A procedure that is not common in Turkey either. More than 150 of the demonstrators were arrested by the police.