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Turkey to arrest 82 for pro-Kurdish rallies

Turkish authorities on Friday issued arrest warrants for 82 people, including a mayor, over pro-Kurdish protests six years ago, officials and local media said.

The warrants relate to October 2014 protests in Turkey sparked by the seizure by Islamic State (IS) jihadists of the mainly Kurdish Syrian town of Kobane.

Police were on the hunt for the 82 suspects in the Turkish capital and six other provinces, the Ankara chief public prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

The prosecutor’s office did not specify what offenses the 82 are alleged to have committed.

But it said crimes committed during the protests included murder, attempted murder, theft, damaging property, looting, burning the Turkish flag and injuring 326 security officials and 435 citizens.

There was also a warrant for the mayor of the eastern city of Kars, Ayhan Bilgen, Hurriyet daily reported.

Bilgen won the city in the 2019 local elections representing the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which is Turkey’s second-largest opposition group in the parliament. 

Of a total of 65 HDP mayors returned in those elections, 47 have now been replaced by unelected officials, with some detained on terror charges, the party said last month.

The Turkish government accuses the HDP of being a political front for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party – which has waged an insurgency against the state since 1984 – but the party denies this.

Former HDP co-leaders, Figen Yuksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas, were named in the investigation but both have been in jail since 2016 pending multiple trials.

The government accused the HDP of urging people to take part in the protests across Turkey that left 37 dead.

But the HDP blames Turkish police for the violence. 

Topics: pro-Kurdish protests , Islamic State , Figen Yuksekdag , Selahattin Demirtas
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