The police on Tuesday detained 33 people in early morning raids in Gaziantep including local officials of the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) as well as a number of others in Diyarbakır, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported, citing local media reports.
HDP Gaziantep provincial Co-chair Musa Aydın, two district managers, city council members, local journalists and women’s rights activists were among those detained in the two southeastern cities.
The detention warrants were issued by the Gaziantep Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office as part of an investigation into the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), according to the reports.
The HDP released a statement in reaction to the detentions, describing them as a crackdown on society by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
“What is being carried out is a ‘political genocide’ against certain segments of society,” the HDP said.
HDP politicians are often accused by the government and the pro-government media of cooperating with the PKK, which has been waging an armed insurgency against Turkish security forces in the Kurdish-majority Southeast since the 1980s and is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US.
The breakdown of peace talks between the AKP and the PKK in the summer of 2015 unleashed the government-led crackdown against the HDP and other smaller Kurdish political movements in the region.
Former HDP Co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ have in prison up since November 2016 on terrorism-related charges, and the interior ministry has ousted more than 40 Kurdish mayors since the local elections last year, appointing pro-government trustees to replace them.