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Turkey detains 72 Kurdish lawyers and rights activists




Protesters shout slogans against the government as they hold placards stating “ for democracy, all together ” during their march against the arrest of parliamentarians from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party HDP DTK Co-Chair Leyla Guven and Musa Farisogullari, Photo: EPA-EFE / TOLGA BOZOGLU

Turkish police raided 108 addresses in four towns on Friday morning, arresting 72 Kurdish lawyers, politicians and civil rights activists for their alleged role in the Congress of Democratic Society, DTK.

The DTK, headquartered in Diyarbakir, in southeastern Turkey, is an umbrella organization that aims to bring together pro-Kurdish political parties, NGOs and others.

The names of the detainees were included in some DTK documents that police seized earlier. Our colleagues were arrested because their names are said to be mentioned in DTK documents, Cihan Aydin, president of the Diyarbakir Bar, wrote on Twitter.

According to VOA in Turkish, 24 of the 72 detainees are lawyers. Another 25 people, including nine lawyers, are still wanted by Turkish police.

Several lawyers and prominent civil rights activists were arrested this morning after their doors were broken down by police. … You [the Turkish government] kill justice and the law, Ebru Gunay, spokesperson for the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, HDP, said at a press conference, calling on the government to release the detainees.

The Diyarbakir Bar said in a written statement that the detentions were aimed at silencing the bar and disrupting the work of civil society. We urge the authorities to immediately release our colleagues and NGO representatives, the statement said.

The government has stepped up pressure on the pro-Kurdish HDP party and other Kurdish groups in recent years.

Experts believe that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is implementing a strategy of division to rule against Kurdish groups, fearing Kurdish support for a united opposition against his regime

The DTK played an active role in the peace process between 2009 and 2015 between the government and Kurdish groups.

However, when the peace process collapsed amid armed conflict between the security forces and the banned Kurdistan People’s Party, the PKK, the authorities linked the DTK directly to the PKK. The PKK has been fighting Turkish governments for nearly four decades in its quest for greater Kurdish autonomy.

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