Turkish police have detained 23 people, including the Antalya co-chairs of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), in operations against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in five provinces, CNN Türk reported on Friday.
According to the report, Antalya anti-terror branch teams carried out an operation in Antalya, İstanbul, Kayseri, Diyarbakır and Bursa and detained 23 suspects, including Antalya HDP Co-chairs Songül Şarklı and İhsan Nergis and two lawyers.
The detained suspects, who are accused of illegal conduct, were allegedly preparing for a street protest on Aug. 15, the anniversary of the PKK’s foundation.
Police seized documents and pictures of armed militants, including the posters of jailed PKK chief Abdullah Öcalan, with whom Turkish authorities had conducted direct talks for several years until a truce in effect collapsed in the summer of 2015.
Since then, there have been heavy clashes between the PKK and Turkish security forces.
More than 40,000 people, including 5,500 security force members, have been killed in four decades of fighting between the Turkish state and the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU.
In the meantime, the Turkish government has been criticized for stepping up a crackdown on Kurdish politicians. There are currently 11 HDP deputies behind bars in Turkey. Trustees have been appointed to dozens of municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast, while hundreds of local Kurdish politicians have been arrested on terror charges.