More than 120 people were taken into custody across the country Tuesday in fresh raids against the Kurdish Communities Union, or KCK, prompting fears of a response from Turkey’s main Kurdish party.
“If that is the KCK, then I [must] be [its] leader because all the [people] they detained are colleagues from the Peace and Democracy Party [BDP]. As such, how can we conduct mature, reconciliatory political discussions regarding a solution [to the Kurdish problem]? We are also debating this among ourselves,” BDP leader Selahattin Demirtaþ said.
Around 90 people were detained in Istanbul alone in connection with the investigation into the KCK, the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or the PKK.
Simultaneous raids were also launched Tuesday in the southeastern provinces of Gaziantep, Diyarbakır, Şanlıurfa, Mardin and Siirt, as well as in the eastern province of Adıyaman, the southern province of Mersin, the Aegean province of İzmir, and the capital Ankara.
A deputy leader of the BDP, Erkan Pişkin, and the party’s deputy accountant Salih Yıldız were among the detainees, while several mayors and numerous other regional BDP administrators were also taken into custody as part of the operations. M.K., the alleged Istanbul manager of the KCK who was identified only with his initials, was also detained.
“Every day [the prime minister] is pouring forth directives as if [he were] the country’s chief prosecutor [and] picking targets. Every day our friends are being arrested. Our party assembly members, our mayors, [and] all our party employees are being arrested under the name of KCK operations,” Demirtaş added.
Meanwhile, the BDP’s group deputy leaders Hasip Kaplan and Pervin Buldan paid a visit to Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the prison conditions of Abdullah Öcalan, the PKK’s jailed leader.
Kurdish groups are also planning to undertake a march this weekend in the Gemlik district of the northwestern province of Bursa in protest of Öcalan’s continued isolation. The coastal district was chosen for its proximity to İmralı Island in the Marmara Sea, where Öcalan has been held since 1999.
“People are dying on the streets and mountains in these days when we are talking about framing a new constitution. Political genocide operations are underway. There is also a legal blanket for this. Anyone who opens their mouth [or] speaks can be declared a terrorist,” BDP co-leader Gülten Kışanak said Tuesday at her party’s first group meeting this term.
Work on the new constitution would not yield any results before the appearance of a powerful will to peace, the removal of obstacles in the way of democratization, and the freedoms of thought and organization, she said.
“The AKP police have gone on a hunt for the Kurds. The people will not bow down even if 10,000 people are detained,” she added.
Hundreds of people, including elected mayors, are already on trial on charges of ties to the PKK as part of a two-year case that has fuelled tensions in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey.
A surge in PKK violence in recent months has sparked Turkish military air and artillery strikes against militant bases in the mountains of neighboring northern Iraq.
Some 150 politicians and activists are being tried in Diyarbakir, where a large courtroom has been specially built. Similar trials are being held in other cities across Turkey. The European Union, which Turkey is aiming to join, is closely watching the cases and their human rights implications.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union.
Compiled from the Doðan news agency and the Anatolian news agency stories by the Daily News staff.