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Turkey detains pro-Kurdish mayor on suspected terrorism links

FILE PHOTO: A supporter of Turkey's main pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) holds a portrait of their jailed former leader and presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas during a campaign event in Istanbul, Turkey, June 17, 2018. REUTERS/Huseyin Aldemir/File Photo

Turkish authorities on Friday detained a mayor from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) due to suspected links to Kurdish militants, a security source said, the latest in a crackdown on mayors from the party since elections this year.

President Tayyip Erdogan and his government accuse the HDP of having links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, leading to prosecutions of thousands of its members and some leaders. The HDP denies such links.

Ankara has appointed acting mayors to 31 HDP municipalities in southeastern cities and districts since March elections, according to the HDP, and 23 of the HDP’s co-mayors are currently jailed pending trial.

The HDP governs many cities in the southeast of Turkey and typically appoints one male and one female co-mayor to promote gender equality.

Filiz Buluttekin, the mayor of the Sur district in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir, was detained on Friday, the security source said. Two other municipal council members were also detained.

The HDP said police had raided Buluttekin’s home early on Friday. Images showed blockades around the Sur municipality building.

State-owned Anadolu agency said investigations were being conducted against Buluttekin on charges of terrorism propaganda, insulting the Turkish people, the government and the parliament.

It said Buluttekin had attended the funerals of PKK militants and joined a press conference regarding PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, jailed since 1999.

The former co-leaders of the HDP have both been jailed since 2016 on terrorism charges, with several other prominent members accused of supporting terrorism over what the government says are links to the PKK.

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