Turkish authorities have detained former leader of the pro-Kurdish party for criticizing the military campaign against Afrin, a Kurdish-held enclave in northwestern Syria, adding to the growing list of dissidents who were stifled by the police force.
Serpil Kemalbay was taken by police in Ankara in front of her home over her criticism of Turkey’s three week offensive against Kurdish militia inside Syria, an official from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), who asked not to be named, told AFP.
The state-run Anadolu news agency said she had called for protests against the Syria operation and an arrest warrant had been issued on Friday.
The HDP, the third largest party in the Turkish parliament, has been battered by arrests of its leaders and activists on accusations of supporting Kurdish militants, which they deny.
Ms. Kemalbay had succeeded Figen Yuksekdag as co-leader in May 2017 after Ms. Yuksekdag was arrested. At a party congress on Saturday Pervin Buldan took over her job.
Meanwhile, former co-leader Selahattin Demirtas, one of Turkey’s most charismatic politicians, has been in jail since November 2016. Fearing he risks spending a long time in jail, Mr. Demirtas stepped down as leader of the party and was replaced at Sunday’s congress by Sezai Temelli.
In the name of gender equality, the HDP splits all its major jobs between a man and a woman.
According to the interior ministry, 666 people have been detained in Turkey in a major crackdown for either criticizing or protesting against operation “Olive Branch” in Syria since it began on January 20.
The HDP is the only political party in Turkey to oppose the operation. Prosecutors are also investigating Ms. Buldan over comments she made at the congress.