Turkey prosecutor seeks arrest of 16 pro-Kurd politicians before elections

A Turkish prosecutor issued arrest warrants for 16 members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) on terror charges allegedly committed in the southeastern city of Mardin, the opposition daily Birgün reported Thursday.

The pro-Kurdish party on Jan. 30 organised a meeting during which its mayoral candidates introduced themselves to the public ahead of the March 31 local elections. Some HDP deputies and provincial co-chairs attended. The prosecutor accused the attendees of making propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. 

The prosecutor said the suspects sang anthems that "praised the PKK" and kept a minute of silence in memory of "terrorists" who lost their lives in the fight between the Turkish army and the group. 

Following an investigation of the meeting, Turkish police detained some party members including Mardin co-chair Ali Sincar, according to Birgün. 

Turkish police and prosecutors have also locked up scores of pro-Kurdish parliamentarians and mayors on charges of supporting the PKK. The government has taken over municipalities and town councils belonging to pro-Kurdish political parties by appointing new administrators.

More than 40,000 people, most of them Kurds, have been killed in fighting between Turkish security forces and the PKK, which began its armed campaign in 1984.