Turkey's crackdown on the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) continued on Oct. 1, with police detaining the co-mayor of the eastern province of Kars, as well as party members.
Kars Co-Mayor Şevin Alaca and 20 others were detained in early morning raids, a week after 20 HDP members were detained among 82 sought over 2014 Kobane protests.
The detentions came after Kars Co-Mayor Ayhan Bilgen, who was also detained in the operation on Sept. 25, said on Sept. 30 that he will resign and that five parties in the city's municipal council can form a new administration.
"Whether you arrest or release me, I'll resign from my post if no trustees are appointed until my detention period ends. Kars is competent enough to govern itself," Bilgen said.
If those detained in the two operations are arrested, members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will hold the majority in the municipal council.
Protesters flooded streets in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast in early October 2014, outraged over the Turkish government's inaction in protecting Syrian Kurds as ISIS besieged Kobane, just across the Syrian border. The protests led to the deaths of 37 people, as members of Turkish Hizbullah also took to the streets. Ankara accuses the HDP of inciting violence.Kars Mayor Ayhan Bilgen announces resignation from post while under detention
During the raid on Oct. 1, police conducted searches in the municipality and the HDP's Kars branch.
Those detained are accused of having links to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), mainly through attending a peace demonstration in 2014 and 2015, making propaganda through speaking to news outlets, employing families of the PKK militants who are either arrested or killed and distributing money collected through associations in Europe to individuals linked to the PKK.HDP co-chair calls on Davutoğlu to 'speak the truth' about 2014 Kobane protests