20 July 2018

Deputy PM calls HDP detentions 'constitutional'

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9 MPs of opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party were remanded last Friday in terror probe for failing to answer summons.

The recent detentions of nine lawmakers of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) are "constitutional," Turkish deputy prime minister Numan Kurtulmus said Monday.

A total of nine HDP lawmakers, including co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, were remanded in custody last Friday for failing to answer public prosecutors’ summons linked to an ongoing counter-terrorism probe. Diyarbakir Deputies Ziya Pir and Imam Tascier, and Ankara Deputy Sirri Sureyya Onder were released under judicial control.

"This is in line with the Constitution. [...] The process to arrest, and remand [the HDP lawmakers] and the upcoming process is totally and 100% legal," Numan Kurtulmus said at a news conference following the Cabinet meeting.

The deputy PM went on to say that another HDP deputy, Nihat Akdogan, who was under arrest warrant, was captured in southeastern Hakkari province, bringing the number of wanted lawmakers down to two.

Van Deputy Tugba Hezer Ozturk and Sirnak Deputy Faysal Sariyildiz are the remaining HDP deputies for whom arrest orders have been issued.

Kurtulmus said the HDP continued its political activities "in the shadow of the terrorist organization," referring to the PKK.

The arrested lawmakers face prosecution under anti-terrorism laws after their parliamentary immunity was lifted earlier this year.

Lawmakers from other parties had also been summoned before public prosecutors but only HDP deputies refused to testify.

Among the charges HDP lawmakers face are alleged offenses of spreading terrorist propaganda in relation to comments made in October 2014, after Daesh terrorists entered the Syrian border town of Kobani, also known as Ayn Al-Arab. Demirtas and other HDP figures had urged residents to take to the streets. The ensuing week of violent demonstrations left dozens of people dead, including two police officers and saw hundreds of people injured.

The government has accused the HDP of having links to the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and U.S.

Clearing Manbij of PYD is Turkey's 'strategic priority'

Kurtulmus said it was among Turkey's strategic priorities to clear the Syrian city of Manbij of PYD, adding the importance of dislodging this terrorist group was communicated to the U.S. once again during a meeting of the U.S. and Turkish military chiefs in Ankara Sunday.

The PKK and its Syrian offshoot the PYD are both listed as terrorist groups by Turkey although the U.S. and the EU only view the PKK as a terrorist organization.

As for Turkey dispatching its tanks to southeastern Sirnak province's Silopi district near the border with Iraq last Tuesday, Kurtulmus said: "This step was taken within the framework of Turkey's possible measures."

The deputy PM also commented on the Raqqa operation, saying it would not contribute to regional peace if "non-Arab elements" took hold in the Syrian city.

He said "legitimacy" should be an important part of the operation. "Legitimacy can not be achieved with armed terrorist organizations," he added.

Regarding the Raqqa operation, the Pentagon Spokesman Peter Cook said Oct. 31 that Ankara and Washington were still working out how to move forward with uprooting Daesh from its self-declared capital in Syria.

However, Ankara is opposed to the involvement of the PKK terror group’s affiliates such as the PYD and its military wing, YPG, in the operation.

Kurtulmus said thanks to the Turkish military operation launched in northern Syria late August, 173 villages in northern Syria were "cleared" of Daesh.

Operation Euphrates Shield was launched to rid the north Syrian border area of terrorists. The campaign has seen both Daesh and the PKK/PYD targeted by the Free Syrian Army and Turkish tanks, artillery and aircraft.

2016.11.08 / 11:44
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