At least 16 people affiliated with the Erzincan-based Pir Sultan Abdal Culture Association (PSAKD), have been put in pre-trial detention for “providing support to a terrorist organization,” the Birgün daily reported.

According to the report, among the arrestees are Erol Yeter, deputy chair of the PSAKD, and Akın Demir, local director of the PSKAD in Erzincan.

Releasing a public statement on Friday, Salih Ürü, chair of the PSAKD’s Erzincan branch, said the association’s activities are limited to maintaining and protecting Alevi culture. “We are doing activities in favor of Alevi belief along with NGOs in the region. We are an organization of faith. Our colleagues were arrested for participatinf in such activities,” Ürü said.

Although there are no precise figures, with its approximately 20 million adherents Alevis constitute the second-largest religious community in Turkey after Sunni Muslims.

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