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Angry protests in Turkey and beyond after arrest of pro-Kurdish HDP politicians

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By Euronews  with Reuters
Angry protests in Turkey and beyond after arrest of pro-Kurdish HDP politicians

Protesters have taken to the streets of a number of Turkish cities in anger at the arrest of a number of pro-Kurdish HDP politicians.

Detention orders were issued for at least 12 People’s Democratic Party (HDP) MPs as part of an ongoing counter-terrorism investigation.

HDP co-chair Figen Yuksekdag was arrested and detained in Ankara.

Dramatic online footage appeared to show her home being forcefully entered and an arrest warrant being read.

Fellow HDP leader, Selahattin Demirtas, was initially detained in predominantly-Kurdish Diyarbakir, then later transported across Turkey, where he remains in detention.

Demirtas’ lawyer, Mahsuni Kahraman, read out the following statement on his behalf:
“‘We are facing another phase of the coup carried out by the government and by the palace. My friends and I will continue to stand against this unlawful coup. We want the people to know that we will continue their struggle for freedom, democracy and peace.”

‘The palace’ is a term pro-Kurdish politicians in Turkey use to refer to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

All the HDP MPs arrested deny accusations of spreading propaganda for militants fighting the Turkish state and refute allegations of links to the PKK Kurdistan Workers’ Party, listed a terrorist organisation.

They were arrested for refusing to testify or answer prosecutors’ questions, officials say.

While Turkish politicians usually have immunity from prosecution, this was removed from the HDP and other MPs in May, 2016.

It is currently the third-largest party in Turkey.

Dozens of demonstrators were arrested at a number of rallies nationwide. Tear gas was used in Istanbul, while in Ankara police used water cannon to disperse the crowds.

Condemnation came from further afield, too, including in Germany, which is home to the largest population of Turkish people outside Turkey.

The UN and EU have also denounced the arrests, which are part of a widening crackdown on dissent under the president and ruling AK Party founder, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.