Ex-chair of pro-Kurdish party held for opposing Syria offensive

Serpil Kemalbay started a hunger strike against this unjust and unlawful detention and prosecution
Wednesday, 14 February 2018 22:20

Turkish police on Tuesday detained the former co-leader of Turkey's main pro-Kurdish party just two days after she handed over her job to a successor. Serpil Kemalbay started a hunger strike "against this unjust and unlawful detention and prosecution", the party said in a statement Wednesday. 

She was taken by police in Ankara in front of her home over her criticism of Turkey's three week offensive against Kurdish militants inside Syria.

According to the interior ministry, 666 people have been detained in Turkey in a major crackdown for either criticising or protesting against operation dubbed "Olive Branch" in Syria since it began on January 20.

The Ankara chief public prosecutor opened an investigation into Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-leader Pervin Buldan and fellow lawmaker Sırrı Süreyya Önder on suspicion of making "terror" propaganda. Buldan, who is also a deputy speaker of the parliament, had been chosen by party delegates to be co-leader of the HDP on Sunday during its congress in Ankara. 

The party said delegates' cars were stopped and they were subjected to frequent ID checks by police who detained around 500 people in the days leading up to the congress, attended by 32,000 members and supporters.