Pro-Kurdish Party Members Arrested for Suspected Links with Rebels
Nine members of Turkey's pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (HADEP) has been arrested and five others taken into custody for alleged links with armed Kurdish rebels, a party official told AFP Saturday.
Three leaders of HADEP's branch in Cizre town in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeast, were arrested Friday after a ten-day detention on suspicion of links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), HADEP deputy chairman Hamit Geylani said.
Six other HADEP members were arrested in Varto town on the same charges after spending four days in custody.
In addition, security forces in Semdinli town detained five party members, among them the chairman of the local party branch and a municipality official, Geylani said.
He stressed that the accusations had no legal merit.
"These are slanders, a conspiracy ahead of our party convention on November 26," he said.
"It is obvious that such an injustice and illegal oppression cannot be of benefit for anybody, and primarily our country," Geylani added.
In October, a dozen HADEP members, among them the chairmen of two provincial branches, were arrested for suspected links to the PKK, which has waged a 15-year war for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey's southeast.
HADEP says the arrests are a part of a "conspiracy" to bully the party from carrying out political activities in the country's mainly Kurdish southeastern provinces, where it has recently stepped up its activities.
In the 1999 elections, HADEP, which favors a peaceful resolution to the Kurdish conflict and recognition of Kurdish cultural rights, won a string of town halls in the region, but failed to enter parliament because it remained under a 10-percent national threshold.
The party itself faces a possible ban for alleged links to the PKK, considered a terrorist group by Ankara -- ANKARA (AFP)
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