In the run-up to the second round of presidential elections in Turkey, at least 177 people have been detained in cities where the pro-Kurdish Green Left Party received a significant number of votes.
Following the qualification of the presidential elections for the second round, the ruling government has stepped up its pressure, particularly targeting Kurdish voters. In a series of consecutive operations carried out in cities where the Green Left Party and the opposition’s presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu received high vote percentages, dozens of individuals have been arrested.
Among those detained are members and officials of the Green Left Party and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). These arrests have been interpreted as an attempt to undermine the will of the voters and exert pressure on the ballot boxes during the second round of elections.
Monday, 22 May
The wave of operations began on 22 May, two months after the Newroz (Kurdish new year) celebrations. In a series of operations launched in five cities centred around capital Ankara due to participating in these celebrations, 19 people were detained. HDP members were also taken into custody on charges of “propagating an illegal organisation.” The 19 individuals, whose detention has been extended, are still undergoing police procedures.
Tuesday, 23 May
On 23 May, as part of an investigation conducted by the southern province of Mersin’s chief public prosecutor’s office, raids were carried out at 28 addresses in Mersin, Ankara, Antalya, Adana, and Izmir. During these raids, officials and members of pro-Kurdish political parties and an association that advocates for political prisoners were detained.
Among those detained in Adana is Şemsa Bağdu, the wife of Kadri Bağdu, an employee of Kurdish Azadiya Welat newspaper who was murdered by Islamic State (ISIS) militants. She was among the 12 individuals who were released after their statements were taken on the same day. In Mersin, the police procedures of 15 detained individuals are still ongoing.
In the morning hours, security forces conducted raids on several homes in the southeastern province of Mardin (Mêrdîn) and arrested officials of the Democratic Regions Party (DBP) on charges of “aiding an illegal organisation.” In addition, several houses were searched in the district, and digital materials were confiscated.
Around 30 people were detained due to “illegal organisation membership” through an investigation conducted by Tekirdağ Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. Detained citizens are still undergoing police procedures.
Wednesday, 24 May
On 24 May, eight were detained in Mardin (Mêrdîn) as part of an investigation launched by the Diyarbakır (Amed) Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office into the congress of HDP Youth Assembly. One of the detainees was released after statement procedures, while the others were taken to Amed for statement procedures.
On the same day, 24 people were detained in the city, including Rahmi Güneş, head of the general services workers’ union, his wife and children. Detained for their political activities and protests in 2014, the citizens were released after their statements at the gendarmerie.
In Izmir, 11 people, including musicians who played at the openings of Green Left Party’s election liaison offices before the 14 May elections, were detained. While five detainees were released after security procedures, six were subjected to file restrictions and a ban on seeing their lawyers. Police procedures for six people continue.
Thursday, 25 May
On 25 May, 57 houses were raided in the morning in Hakkari (Colemêrg), where the Green Left Party won three out of three seats in the 14 May parliamentary elections. At least 24 people were detained in the raids on the allegations of “illegal organisation propaganda” and “illegal organisation membership”.
Meanwhile, Şanlıurfa (Riha) Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation against 33 people, including 19 lawyers. The investigation was launched in relation to the statement made by the Şanlıurfa branch of the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD) on 25 April to protest the detention of more than 190 people in a Diyarbakır-based operation.
Friday, 26 May
An investigation was launched against Green Left Hakkari MP Vezir Coşkun Parlak on the allegation of “providing finance to a terrorist organisation” on the day he received his parliamentary mandate.
Critics argue that these arrests aim to silence opposition voices and consolidate power. As the international community watches closely, the future of democracy in Turkey hangs in the balance, and the second round of elections will undoubtedly be a crucial moment in shaping the country’s political landscape.