Oct 21, 2019 15:56 UTC
  • Turkey detains 3 pro-Kurdish mayors over 'terror' links

Turkey has arrested three mayors from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) on suspicion of "membership in a terror group" and "disseminating terror propaganda."

The three HDP mayors of Kayapinar, Bismil and Kocakoy in the Kurdish majority southeast, as well as the dismissed mayor of Diyarbakir, Adnan Selcuk Mizrakli, were detained as part of an investigation launched by prosecutors, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Monday.

The three local mayors were suspended over alleged ties to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group, which has been waging an insurgency for autonomy in Turkey’s largely-Kurdish southeast since 1984 and is deemed a terrorist organization by Turkey. 

In August, Mirzakli was removed from office on charges of links to the PKK along with two other mayors. The mayors -- all members of HDP -- had active cases against them in which they were accused of crimes such as establishing or spreading propaganda for the militant group, or just being a member. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly claimed the HDP has ties to the PKK.

Thousands of HDP members have been prosecuted over the same accusation, including its leaders. The party denies any affiliation with the outlawed Kurdish militant group.

The Turkish government is also angered by descriptions of its offensive on Syria that the HDP labels as an “invasion attempt.”

The HDP has urged Ankara to halt the military operation in northern Syria, which is purportedly aimed at pushing Kurdish militants from the border region.

On October 15, Turkey arrested four mayors from the HDP in an apparent crackdown on critics of Ankara’s latest offensive against Syria.