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Turkey detained two co-leaders and nine other lawmakers of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) early on Friday over reluctance to give testimony for crimes linked to “terrorist propaganda.”
The Turkish Interior Ministry said detention orders for 13 MPs were issued, but only 11 were detained as two lawmakers were abroad. Lawyers had earlier said 15 MPs were detained.
Turkish police raided the Ankara house of co-leader Selahattin Demirtas and the house of co-leader Figen Yuksekdag in Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast, the party’s lawyers told Reuters.
“HDP call international community to react against Erdogan Regime’s coup,” the party said on Twitter, referring to President Tayyip Erdogan.
Police also raided and searched the party’s head office in central Ankara. Television images showed party officials quarreling with police during the raid, and a Reuters witness said many police cars and armed vehicles had closed the entrances to the street of the HDP headquarters.
A group of protesters chanting slogans tried to reach the party offices, but were stopped by police before they could enter the street, a Reuters witness said.
“Very bad news from Turkey. Again. Now HDP members of parliament are being detained,” European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur, Kati Piri, said on Twitter.
A widespread difficulty in reaching social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook as well as messaging app WhatsApp were reported across Turkey after the detentions started at midnight.
HDP is the third largest party in the 550-seat Turkish parliament, with 59 seats.
Parliamentarians in Turkey normally enjoy immunity from prosecution, but the pro-Kurdish party’s immunity was lifted earlier this year.
Turkey accuses the HDP of links to the Kurdish militant group PKK, which is deemed a terrorist organisation by the United States, the European Union and Turkey.