Eighteen of the 82 people, including former parliamentary deputies, mayors and ex-party leaders of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), have been detained so far in an operation by counterterrorism units simultaneously covering seven provinces, the news agency said.
Among those apprehended were former deputy and HDP mayor of the city of Kars Ayhan Bilgen, former HDP deputies Ayla Akat Ata, Sırrı Süreyya Önder, Altan Tan, Nazmi Gür, Emine Beyza Üstün and Emine Ayna, and Alp Altınörs, a member of the party’s Central Executive Board, it said.
The nationwide operation, ordered by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor, was conducted after an investigation into the organisation of widespread protests in Oct. 2014. Demonstrators had flooded the streets in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast, accusing the Turkish military of standing by as the Islamic State besieged Kobani, a Kurdish town just across the Syrian border. The protests led to the deaths of 37 people.
Former HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ Şenoğlu were previously detained by police in the same investigation. Both are in jail for alleged terrorism offences.
Turkey maintains that the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) incited the demonstrations. It accuses the HDP of links to the PKK and supporting the protests. The HDP, the third largest party in parliament, denies the charges.
The PKK is labelled as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. The group says it is a military force fighting for autonomy for Turkey’s Kurds.