Turkish police targeted officials and activists from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) ahead of the 14 May elections in a series of raids, with the latest on Monday in Şanlıurfa (Riha) province.
Police conducted house raids in the southeastern province, detaining 18 people, including HDP and Democratic Regions Party (DBP) executives.
Former district co-mayor Hülya Demir, HDP district co-chair Yaşar Gündüzalp, and DBP district co-chair Rojda Binici were among those arrested. No reason was given for their detention, and they were restricted from seeing a lawyer for 24 hours.
Last week on 20 March, HDP provincial co-chair Mehmet Dilek was detained by police in a raid on his home in Istanbul, though no clear reason was given for his arrest. Dilek was later released after giving a statement to the Istanbul Security Directorate. In a similar operation on 22 March, seven HDP members, including a member of the party’s executive board, İdil Uğurlu, were detained in the city of Izmir.
The arrests drew criticism from various groups, including the main target HDP, as in previous years numerous HDP members were also arrested prior to elections, particularly those who were due to work at polling stations. These tactics are seen as a means of suppressing the Kurdish opposition, prompting concerns about the fairness of the upcoming 14 May elections in Turkey.