Police detain over 100 in sweeping KCK raids

Police detain over 100 in sweeping KCK raids

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Police detain over 100 in sweeping KCK raids

Members from the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK) protested the detentions ina protest held in Ankara, saying the detentions wil not stop them. DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIK

Security forces have rounded up 109 people yesterday morning in raids conducted across Turkey, including the headquarters of several labor unions in Ankara, as part of the ongoing probe into the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK).

Law enforcement officials searched the headquarters of the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK), the All Municipal and Local Administration Workers Union (Tüm Bel Sen) and the Health Employees Union (SES), as well as the homes of some union members, taking 15 people into custody in Ankara. The raid of KESK’s headquarters has to do with a meeting held by certain female members of the union in 2009, said İsmail Hakkı Tombul, the union’s general secretary, while speaking yesterday to the private channel CNN Türk.

The raids came only days before the 13th anniversary of the capture of Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), by Turkish security forces Feb. 15.

“KESK is able to go out on the street and show true opposition,” Tombul said when answering a question about why the union had been targeted.

“All of those arrested within the scope of the so – called KCK operations are members and employees of our party. They are [people] pursuing democratic politics. They are unionists, intellectuals and human rights defenders. Forces of power cannot conceal this truth with their claims,” said the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in a press statement.

Anti-terror and special operations police have also detained 42 people in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district after about two hours of searching in different locations. The suspects were subsequently taken through a health check and questioned by the police, according to Doğan news agency.

Authorities have arrested dozens more in the southeastern provinces of Şırnak, İzmir, Diyarbakır, Muş, Hakkari, Şanlıurfa and Gaziantep, in the southern province of Adana and the southwestern provinces of Denizli and Mersin, as well as in the northwestern province of Kocaeli.

Specially Authorized Chief Prosecutor Bilal Bayraktar issued the orders for the raids, according to reports. Another 24 suspects who were detained in Batman were allegedly involved in such acts as bomb attacks and using molotov cocktails against security officials, private shops and vehicles, and the provision of manpower and logistical support to PKK militants in the countryside, according to a written statement issued by the Batman Governor’s Office.

The KCK is the alleged urban wing of the outlawed PKK, which is recognized as a terrorist group by the US, the EU and Turkey.