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Turkish government begins crackdown on pro-Kurdish party

demonstration in solidarity with pro kurdish hdp in istanbul
People shout slogans during a demonstration to protest against the court case launched for closure of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in Istanbul, Turkey March 18, 2021. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

Turkish police detained three top district officials of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) among 10 people held in an operation targeting Kurdish militants, state media said on Friday, after a court case was opened to close the HDP.

Separately, Turkey‘s Human Rights Association (IHD) said its chairman, Ozturk Turkdogan, was arrested in a raid by police on his home on Friday morning. The IHD said on Twitter its lawyers were seeking information about his case.

A Turkish prosecutor filed a case with the Constitutional Court on Wednesday demanding a ban on the HDP, the culmination of a years-long crackdown against the third largest party in parliament. The HDP called it a “political coup”.

Police staged simultaneous raids in four districts and among those detained were the two top HDP officials in the Istanbul district of Kagithane and its Besiktas district head, state-owned Anadolu news agency said.

There were arrest warrants for 15 people in total, it added.

The United States and Europe criticised the move to open the court case, saying it undermined democracy, but a spokesman for President Tayyip Erdogan said the HDP had ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group.

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