DIYARBAKIR (Reuters)–Turkish police raided the southeastern offices of the main legal Kurdish party on Tuesday–arresting 11 party leaders and seizing documen’s and cassettes.
The People’s Democracy Party (HADEP) said police entered their offices in the southeastern regional capital Diyarbakir and in four other towns in the mainly Kurdish province.
HADEP advocates a negotiated solution to a 15-year conflict between the state and Abdullah Ocalan’s Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in which some 30,000 Kurds–soldiers and civilians have been killed.
It has called for the state to grant the country’s 12 million Kurds cultural rights–such as education and broadcasting in Kurdish.
Leading HADEP figures are frequently jailed on charges of separatism or ties to the PKK. Its two predecessor parties were banned for the same reason.
HADEP mayors swept to power on local councils across the southeast in April polls but the party failed to pass a 10 percent national vote threshold needed to send deputies to parliament.
Tense relations between HADEP and Turkey’s establishment have eased since Ocalan ordered his rebels to end the armed struggle and withdraw from Turkey. He was condemned to death for leading the PKK in June. Although sporadic clashes have continued–army officials have reported a significant drop in violence in the southeast.
Ocalan’s case has been under scrutiny from the EU–given Turkey’s pending membership.