Wave of arrests in Turkey as election looms

A police officer stand at the entrance on Istanbul's popular pedestrian Istiklal Avenue, late Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022.
A police officer stand at the entrance on Istanbul's popular pedestrian Istiklal Avenue, late Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022. Copyright Emrah Gurel/AP
Copyright Emrah Gurel/AP
By Euronews with AFP
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More than 100 people were detained as part of an "anti-terrorist" operation, Turkish police said on Tuesday.


Hundreds have been arrested in Turkey for "terrorism" ahead of crucial elections. 

At least 110 people were detained on Tuesday as part of an "anti-terrorist" operation, according to Turkish police. 

The operation, which was said to target the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK), comes three weeks before pivotal elections in May, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan battling to continue his decades-long rule. 

Arrests were made in 21 provinces across Turkey, including in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir which has a Kurdish majority. 

"Twenty lawyers, five journalists, three actors and a politician" were detained, said the Diyarbakir Bar Association, detailing that lawyers are banned from contacting their clients for 24 hours. 

It suggested the number of arrests could climb to 150.

"The homes of many people, including journalists, lawyers and NGO leaders, were searched in the early hours of the morning," said Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA), a Turkish non-profit. 

Nationwide elections will take place in Turkey on 14 May. The polls are predicting a tight race between President Erdogan's AKP Party and the opposition candidate Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, who several other political parties have united behind. 

Erdogan has ruled Turkey since 2003, but his support has taken a knock in recent years amid a collapsing economy and accusations he is steering the country towards authoritarianism. 

The devastating twin earthquakes in early February that killed more than 50,000 and left millions homeless have further dented his popularity, with some criticising what they deem the authority's slow response and lax attitude to building regulations. 

Erdogan did recognise falts with the response, though pointed out how difficult it is to deal with natural catastrophes on this scale. 

In October, new laws were put in place that tightened authorities' control over social networks, prompting human rights activists to express concern about what they considered another step towards authoritarianism.

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