Turkey detains former Kurdish party officials for PKK links

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish authorities have detained 46 people, including former local officials from a pro-Kurdish political party, who are suspected of having financial links to Kurdish militants, the state-run news agency reported on Tuesday.

The detained are among 91 suspects sought by a chief prosecutor for allegedly “providing financial resources on behalf” of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, Anadolu Agency reported. They are accused of being a part of the PKK’s “economic structure,” of money-laundering and of taking instructions from PKK commander Murat Karayilan, it said.

Anadolu said the suspects include former deputy mayors, former party treasurers and former city council members of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, or HDP.

There was no immediate comment from the HDP — the second-largest opposition party in Turkey’s parliament — which is fighting legal moves toward its closure at Turkey’s Constitutional Court.

Prosecutors accuse the party of colluding with the PKK and of seeking to “destroy the unity of the state.” They are demanding that the party be dissolved, that it be deprived of treasury funding and that about 450 party members be barred from holding political office for five years. The HDP denies the accusations.

Dozens of elected HDP lawmakers and mayors — including former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag — as well as thousands of party members have been arrested on terror-related accusations as part of a government crackdown on the party. Several HDP mayors who were elected in 2019 have, meanwhile, been replaced by state-appointed trustees.

The PKK is considered a terror organization by Turkey, the European Union and the U.S. The group has led an armed insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 and the conflict has killed tens of thousands of people.

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