Turkey probes pro-Kurdish party chief for 'terror' propaganda
AFP, Monday 12 Feb 2018

Turkish prosecutors Monday launched a probe into the leader of the main pro-Kurdish party over criticism of Ankara's offensive in Syria, just one day after she was chosen as the new joint leader of the party.

The Ankara chief public prosecutor opened an investigation into Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) leader Pervin Buldan and fellow lawmaker Sirri Surreya Onder on suspicion of making "terror" propaganda, the prosecutor's office told AFP.

Turkey has detained hundreds of people since the Syria operation began on January 20, in a major crackdown that has angered activists.

The interior ministry said on Monday that 474 people had now been detained over accusations of spreading "terror propaganda" and another 192 for protesting against it.

Turkey launched a military operation dubbed "Olive Branch" against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia in its western enclave of Afrin in Syria, supporting Syrian rebels with ground troops and air strikes.

The HDP is the only party in parliament that opposes the offensive.

Buldan, who is also a deputy speaker of the parliament, had been chosen by party delegates to be co-leader of the HDP on Sunday during its congress in Ankara.

Ankara says the YPG is a "terrorist" offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) but the militia has been working closely with the US who has given it weapons to use against the Islamic State extremist group in Syria.

The prosecutor's office said the two MPs were being investigated after images of the jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan were shown during the congress.

The two are also being probed over allegedly making statements against the Afrin operation during the event but the prosecutor's office did not give specific details.

The HDP has male and female co-chairs in the name of promoting gender equality. The party's delegates voted for Buldan's male co-leader to be Sezai Temelli, a former MP.

Temelli replaced Selahattin Demirtas, who was credited with building the appeal of the party beyond its Kurdish base but has been jailed since November 2016 over alleged links to the PKK.

Buldan replaced Serpil Kemalbay who herself replaced Figen Yuksekdag, who was arrested at the same time as Demirtas.