Detention warrants issued for HDP co-leader Kemalbay, members ahead of major congress
The Ankara Public Prosecutor’s office has issued detention warrants for 17 members of the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), including co-leader Serpil Kemalbay, two days ahead of the party’s third ordinary congress where new co-leaders and executive members will be elected.
An Ankara prosecutor had launched an investigation into the 17 members after they read out a statement criticizing the Turkish military’s “Operation Olive Branch” in Syria’s northwestern district of Afrin last week on Feb. 9, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
On Feb. 8, 31 HDP and Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK) members were also taken into custody in Istanbul after morning raids on their addresses.
Party members are now left to hold their third ordinary congress on Feb. 11 in the absence of their co-leaders Kemalbay and Selahattin Demirtaş, who has been in prison for over a year on terror-related charges.
Formed as a coalition of several political organizations including the Democratic Regions Party (DBP) and the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) under the Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK) umbrella, the HDP’s congress will also be held without HDK spokespersons Onur Hamzaoğlu and Güllistan Koçyiğit, DBP co-leaders Sebahat Tuncel and Mehmet Aslan and DTK co-leader Leyla Güven as they are all currently detained.
In May 2016, amid fisticuffs and brawl the Turkish Parliament passed a measure to strip lawmakers of their immunity, leading to the detention of 27 HDP lawmakers.
Nine HDP lawmakers are currently imprisoned, including former co-leader Figen Yüksekdağ and Demirtaş. In recent months, seven of the party’s deputies were stripped of their seats in parliament either over terror-related charges or absenteeism.
Over a hundred summary proceedings were issued against more than 30 HDP lawmakers in parliament.
New leaders to be elected
Last month Demirtaş said he would not stand as a nominee for the party’s leadership, prompting party members to present two new co-leaders.
At the congress, the party will focus on renewing its cadre left vacant after the arrests and detentions.