Turkey detains Kurdish Mayors

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DM Monitoring

ANKARA – Turkish police detained four mayors from a pro-Kurdish party in dawn raids, widening a crackdown since Ankara launched an incursion into northern Syria a week ago, state media and the party said on Tuesday.
The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) mayors of the Kurdish-majority Hakkari, Yuksekova, Ercis and Nusaybin, districts near Turkey’s borders with Syria and Iraq, were detained over terrorism links, the HDP and Anadolu news agency said, without elaborating.
President TayyipErdogan and his government accuse the HDP of being linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, and thousands of its members have been prosecuted for the same reason, including its leaders. The HDP denies such links.
While most of Turkey’s opposition parties have backed the operation, the HDP has called for it to stop, describing it as an “invasion attempt”. HDP says the operation was an attempt by the government to drum up support amid declining public backing.
The HDP said 151 of its members, including district officials, had been detained over the past week since Turkey and its Syrian rebel allies launched the assault.
Last week, Turkish police launched criminal investigations into the HDP’s co-chairs over their criticism of the military operation and started probes into more than 500 social accounts over “terrorist propaganda” criticizing the offensive.
Authorities launched similar investigations after each of Turkey’s two previous cross-border operations into Syria. More than 300 people were detained for social media posts criticizing Turkey’s offensive into northern Syria in January 2018.
Meanwhile, Turkey could be “deemed responsible” for summary executions by an affiliated armed group of several Kurdish fighters and a politician, reportedly shown on videos on social media at the weekend, the United Nations human rights office said on Tuesday. U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a briefing in Geneva that it was obtaining footage of the killings, apparently carried out by Ahrar al-Sharqiya fighters near Manbij.
“Turkey could be deemed as a state responsible for violations by their affiliated groups as long as Turkey exercises effective control of these groups or the operations in the course of which those violations occurred,” Colville said. “We urge Turkish authorities immediately to launch an impartial, transparent and independent investigation.”