Turkey seeks arrest of Kurdish politicians over 2014 riots

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish prosecutors have issued warrants for the detention of 82 people, including a number pro-Kurdish former lawmakers, as part of an investigation into deadly riots six years ago by Kurds angered at what they perceived to be the government’s inaction against Islamic State group militants who had besieged the Syrian border town of Kobane, state media reported Friday.

The three days of clashes in early October 2014 were the worst in Turkey in recent years, resulting in 37 deaths and leaving hundreds of others — police and civilians — injured. The protests were called by leaders of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, or HDP, who were angered by what they considered to be Turkish support for IS militants.

At least 18 of the suspects were detained in simultaneous police raids in seven provinces on Friday, Anadolu Agency reported. They include Ayhan Bilgen, the current mayor of the eastern city of Kars, six former HDP lawmakers, and other former party executives, the agency said.

It was not immediately clear why the investigation against the 82 people was launched six years after the rioting. HDP’s jailed former leaders, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, have already been charged over the riots, which spread across the country, including Ankara and Istanbul.

The government accuses the HDP of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which is considered a terror organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union. Turkish officials say the HDP leaders took instruction from the PKK for a “rebellion” against the state.

The government has frequently cracked down on the political movement, stripping lawmakers of their legislative seats and arresting and removing elected mayors from office. Several HDP lawmakers have been jailed alongside Demirtas and Yuksekdag, on terror-related charges.