In brief

Mass arrest of Kurdish activists, journalists, lawyers three weeks before Turkey election

Parties, organisations denounce operation as yet another Erdoğan attack on democracy

Several of the detained journalists.
Several of the detained journalists. Author: Jin News
At least 110 people were arrested on 25 April in 21 Kurdish and Turkish cities in an operation ordered by the Amed (Diyarbakir) Public Prosecutor's Office that targeted several Kurdish civil society organisations. The arrested are artists, journalists, lawyers, NGO members, and pro-Kurdish HDP party politicians. The fact that the operation was carried out by the anti-terrorist division of the Turkish police suggests - although the order is confidential - that the detainees are accused of being linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The list of detainees includes Ferhat Çelik, owner of the Mezopotamya News Agency (MA), Osman Akın, editorial director of the daily Yeni Yaşam, and Kadri Esen, editor of the Kurdish-language daily Xwebûn. Around 10 journalists have been arrested, including Beritan Canözer, one of the workers of the women's news agency Jin News.

Among the detained members of human rights NGOs is Veysel Moray, president of the Association for Research and Monitoring of Migration in Mesopotamia (Göç-Der), who a few weeks ago denounced that the government is discriminating against villages populated by Alevi Kurds affected by the 6 February earthquake to depopulate them.

In a statement posted on Instagram, Göç-Der said the wave of arrests is "aimed at repressing and silencing society" and called it an "attack on democracy."

Two HDP leaders, Mahfuz Güleryüz and Özlem Gündüz, have also been arrested. In a statement, the party framed the operation as an attempt by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's government to "steal the ballot box and the will of the people". Turkey holds presidential and parliamentary elections on 14 May. Erdoğan and the main opposition candidate, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, are neck and neck in opinion polls.

Operations against politicians, journalists, lawyers, and members of Kurdish NGOs are commonplace in Turkey.