Three parliamentary candidates of the pro-Kurdish Green Left Party were taken into custody by the Turkish police on Sunday morning in an operation carried out in several cities.
The police operation targeted the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP), which is a part of the Labour and Freedom Alliance that also includes the People’s Democratic Party (HDP).
The pro-government daily Hürriyet reported that the latest operation was carried out in connection with an investigation launched in the central Anatolian province of Eskişehir against members of the Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP). The newspaper said that 10 suspects, six women and four men, had been taken into custody since the morning.
According to the Law Bureau of the Oppressed, an affiliate of the ESP, 19 people have been detained so far, including the party’s co-chair Şahin Tümüklü.
The Green Left Party’s parliamentary candidates Burcu Ayyıldız, Meryem Yıldırım and Müslüm Koyun are also among the detainees.
As was the case in other police operations launched this week, a confidentiality order has been imposed on the case file and the detainees will not be allowed to make contact with their lawyers for 24 hours.
The Turkish authorities this week started a new phase in a crackdown against Kurdish and leftist organisations and personalities, as the country heads to what many analysts call “the most critical election in its history” on 14 May.
The new wave of arrests kicked off with a police operation launched in 21 different provinces, in which they arrested and detained 128 people, including Kurdish politicians, journalists, lawyers engaged in polling security preparations, and members of civil society organisations.
As of Saturday, 48 detainees have been remanded in custody by the courts, while 91 have been released.
The arrests continued on Saturday with a new operation in connection with an investigation launched in the Turkish capital of Ankara. The Turkish police raided dozens of homes in a simultaneous operation carried out in 15 provinces, in order to apprehend 54 suspects, according to the pro-government press.
Dicle Müftüoğlu, the co-chair of the Dicle-Fırat Journalists Association, and Sedat Yılmaz, an editor for Mezopotamya news, were among those detained on Saturday.
The police in İstanbul also detained six journalists on Saturday, who were protesting the operations targeting their colleagues. The crowd gathered for the protest, including HDP MP for İstanbul Züleyha Gülüm, were encircled by security forces, who intervened violently against journalists chanting “Free press cannot be silenced”.
“Press workers were detained here while trying to make a media statement to protest at the detentions against the free press. Those who want to silence the people and the press just before the elections, have responded once again by arresting people. But they should know that neither the free press nor those working for the future of this country will ever give up their struggle,” Gülüm said after the police’s interventions.
The six journalists detained by the police on Saturday were released early on Sunday.