Eleven members of the Turkish Medical Association’s (TTB) central council were detained early on Tuesday for criticizing the Turkish military’s “Operation Olive Branch,” recently launched against the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the Syrian district of Afrin.
The detentions came several days after the TTB denounced the cross-border military operation into Syria, saying “No to war, peace immediately.”
However, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency claimed “only eight members” of the association were detained.
Turkey on Jan. 20 launched a military operation in the Afrin region of Syria, which is controlled by the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD). Turkey sees the PYD as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The Turkish government has reacted strongly to people who oppose the operation, and prosecutor’s offices have launched investigations into those who share social media messages critical of the operation. Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) members and journalists have been the target of the witch-hunt against Afrin operation critics.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Jan. 21 warned the HDP not to take to the streets to protest the operation in Afrin: “You are being closely followed. If you try to take to the streets, know that our security forces will be at your neck.”
“If anyone is in the streets upon calls [from the HDP], they will pay dearly for it. This is a national fight, and whoever opposes us will be crushed.” Erdoğan added.