Kurdish ex-MPs Tuncel, Tuğluk remanded in custody over Kobani protests

A Turkish court on Tuesday remanded into custody two Kurdish former lawmakers from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Sebahat Tuncel and Aysel Tuğluk, as part of an investigation into the violent protests in the aftermath of the Kobani massacre, the site of an Islamic State (ISIS) siege in Syria in 2014.

Tuncel and Tuğluk, already serving time in jail on separate charges, are among the 21 HDP politicians in police custody over the protests after Turkey last month ordered the arrest of 82 people over the events.

The pair is accused of playing a role in coordinating the protests that resulted in the death of at least 34 people, sparked after the siege of Syria's Kobani by ISIS, Diken news site reported.

The protesters, mostly Kurds, accused the Turkish army of standing by as ISIS took over the town just across the Syrian border, and were angered by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan saying the town was “about to fall.” 

Turkish authorities accuse the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group fighting for greater autonomy for the southeast since 1984, of inciting the demonstrations.

They also accuse the pro-Kurdish HDP of links to the PKK and supporting the protests, a charge the HDP denies.

Tuğluk, the former co-chair of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), a Kurdish umbrella organisation, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2018 for "managing a terrorist organisation.’’

Tuncel, the former co-chair of the HDP was sentenced to 5 years and 3 months in prison for "conducting terrorist propaganda" and 9 years and 9 months in prison for "membership in a terrorist organization’’ in 2016.