Turkish police investigate Kurdish leaders, fire water cannon at protesters

Kurdish lawmakers are being investigated. (Reuters)
Updated 10 October 2019

Turkish police investigate Kurdish leaders, fire water cannon at protesters

  • Police fired water cannon and detained dozens of activists

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey, Oct 10 : Turkish police have launched criminal investigations into Kurdish lawmakers and detained scores of people, accusing them of criticizing the military’s incursion into Syria on social media, state media reported.
Police also fired water cannon and detained dozens of activists in the mainly Kurdish southeastern city of Diyarbakir on Thursday at a protest against the cross-border assault.
Turkey pounded the Kurdish YPG militia in northeast Syria for a second day on Thursday, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee and killing dozens. Ankara deems the YPG a terrorist group over its links to militants who have waged an insurgency in Turkey.
Police in riot gear fired water cannon and then detained protesters at a rally in front of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) headquarters in Diyarbakir, the biggest city in the southeast. A HDP party official said police detained 25 members there, including its Diyarbakir provincial leader.
Earlier on Thursday, authorities began investigating HDP leaders and detained 21 people for criticizing the military offensive online, state-owned Anadolu news agency said.
While most of Turkey’s opposition parties have backed the operation, the HDP has called for the offensive to stop, describing it as an “invasion attempt.”
HDP co-leader Sezai Temelli said on Wednesday the operation was an attempt by the government to drum up support amid declining public backing. Prosecutors launched an investigation against him and HDP’s other co-leader, Pervin Buldan, over their remarks about the offensive, Anadolu said.
It said Temelli and Buldan were accused of “carrying out propaganda for a terrorist organization” and “openly insulting Turkey’s government.” Three other HDP lawmakers were being investigated over similar charges, the news agency said.
The government accuses the HDP of ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group and thousands of its members have been prosecuted for the same reason, including its leaders. The HDP denies such links.
Hours after the operation started on Wednesday, authorities also launched investigations against 78 individuals who criticized the offensive on social media, Anadolu said.
On Thursday, 21 people were detained in the southern province of Mardin for their social media posts. The suspects are accused of “provoking the public to hatred and animosity” and “carrying out propaganda for a terrorist organization,” Anadolu said.
Late on Thursday, police detained another 11 people linked to the HDP who were protesting in central Ankara against the incursion, Anadolu reported.
Authorities launched similar investigations after each of Turkey’s two previous cross-border operations into Syria. More than 300 people were detained for social media posts criticizing Turkey’s offensive into northern Syria in January 2018.


Erdogan hit by more arms bans as pressure grows over Syria invasion

Updated 16 October 2019

Erdogan hit by more arms bans as pressure grows over Syria invasion

  • United States threatens more sanctions
  • Britain, Spain and Sweden joined Germany and France in suspending military exports

ANKARA: Three more countries halted arms sales to Turkey on Tuesday as pressure mounted on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the Turkish invasion of northeast Syria.

Britain, Spain and Sweden joined Germany and France in suspending military exports, and the US threatened Ankara with more sanctions unless Erdogan halts the offensive.

“We will keep our defense exports to Turkey under very careful and continual review,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said. “No further export licenses to Turkey for items which might be used in military operations in Syria will be granted while we conduct that review.”

Spain, a major arms exporter to Turkey, urged Erdogan to “put an end to this military operation” because it endangered regional stability, increased the number of refugees and threatened Syria’s territorial integrity.

“In coordination with its EU partners, Spain will deny new export licenses for military equipment that can be used in the operation in Syria,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Sweden also halted exports of military combat equipment. “Two permits that have been active have now been recalled,” it said.

BACKGROUND

Vice President Mike Pence will hold talks with Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday, and the UN Security Council will discuss the invasion.

Erdogan’s assault against Kurdish forces, launched last week, has prompted a chorus of international condemnation. “Many NATO allies are very critical and are condemning the military operation in northern Syria,” said Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of NATO, the Western military alliance of which Turkey is a member.

Russia’s presidential envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, said Turkey had no right to deploy its forces in Syria permanently, and Moscow had not approved the operation.

US President Donald Trump imposed new sanctions on Turkey on Monday, and on Tuesday the US said more sanctions would follow unless the invasion was halted.

“The plan is to continue the pressure on Turkey as we evaluate our chances to return the relationship to normal, a major element of that return to normal would be a cease-fire,” a senior administration official said. “And by cease-fire what I mean is forces on the ground stop moving on the ground.”

Vice President Mike Pence will hold talks with Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday, and the UN Security Council will discuss the invasion.