Turkey announces sweeping roundup of 718 people, including HDP officials, after Iraq killings

Turkish police have detained 718 people, including provincial and district chairs from the HDP, across 40 provinces following the killing of 13 Turkish captives in northern Iraq. Opposition parties have accused the ruling AKP of moving too slowly to free the captives, saying they had previously raised the issue in parliament.

HDP lawmakers Feleknas Uca and Dersim Dağ stand in front of a barricade of riot police as they try to attend a demonstration in Diyarbakır on Feb 15.

Duvar English - Reuters

Turkish police detained 718 people, including members of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), in raids conducted in 40 provinces, the Interior Ministry said on Feb. 15. 

The detentions, which included provincial and district chairs of the HDP, came following the killing of 13 Turkish captives in northern Iraq.

The Turkish government said on Feb. 14 that fighters from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) had executed police and military personnel who had mostly been seized in 2015 and 2016. The killings took place during a military operation.

Opposition parties have accused the government of moving too slowly to free the captives.

The political fallout could raise the stakes in what analysts say are efforts by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to create a rift between the HDP and other opposition parties that cooperated in municipal elections in 2019 to hand Erdoğan defeats.

Members of the HDP, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the İYİ (Good) Party said the government had not acted even though they had previously raised the issue of the captured Turks in parliament.

HDP MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said negotiations had allowed for rescues in previous cases but the government had not considered such an option this time.

"There could have been a solution but this happened due to the government and the ruling party's general policies," he told Reuters. "They are not considering a solution or peace right now, therefore they did not attempt such an option."

Erdoğan rejected the criticism and said on Feb. 15 that Ankara had worked very hard to rescue the captives. He said the latest cross-border operation into Iraq, launched Feb. 10, had this goal.

Erdoğan's government, sliding in some opinion polls, has accused the HDP of links to the PKK and repeatedly detained or arrested its members. It has criticized the CHP for working with the HDP.

Erdoğan's communications director said on Twitter on Feb. 14: "PKK and HDP are one and the same."

The HDP denies this and responded: "Nobody can clean the blood and tears they are responsible for by attacking the HDP."


Topics Turkey HDP Iraq PKK