Eighteen more arrested in Turkey’s crackdown on Kurdish politicians

A court in Ankara ordered the arrest of 18 Kurdish and pro-Kurdish activists and politicians, and released 30 others on parole on Sunday in relation to the lawsuit dubbed the Kobani case.

The chief public prosecutor’s office in the Turkish capital had issued arrest warrants on April 12 for a total of 91 people, 48 of whom were detained on the same day. Detainees were made to wait 12 days in custody and were processed in three courts starting on Saturday, Mezopotamya Agency reported.

Detainees are charged with membership in a terrorist organization, financing terrorism, and laundering of crime-related funds, Mezopotamya said. The court had also frozen assets for all 91 suspects last week.

The main case is related to widespread street protests held in 2014, against an Islamic State (ISIS) siege of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani. Suspects are charged with incitement to violence over more than 30 deaths that occurred between Oct. 6 and 8 during protests.

The case started with the indictment of 108 Kurdish politicians and persons affiliated with the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in 2020, and is cited among chief pieces of evidence in a current case at Turkey’s Constitutional Court to shut the party down.

Among those detained is Erdal Avci, a former co-chair for HDP’s Istanbul branch. According to police statements obtained by Mezopotamya, Avci was asked to justify money transfers between him and his wife, as well as why their phones had received signals from the same cell tower.

The record company Avci worked for as an intellectual property lawyer was also accused of having ties to terrorism, based on secret witness testimony, Mezopotamya said.

Avci was “identified as having attended actions and events held on days determined by the PKK/KCK”, according to the indictment.

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is an armed group that has fought for greater Kurdish autonomy on Turkish soil for some forty years, designated terrorist by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union. The Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) is an umbrella organization that the PKK is affiliated with, but it is not listed as a terrorist organization by itself outside of Turkey.

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