MESOP MIDEAST WATCH: Probe launched into HDP congress for playing PKK slogans

RUDAW – 14-12-2021ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Turkey’s counterterrorism forces said late Sunday that they had received a complaint from the Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office over the alleged chanting of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) slogans during the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) provincial congress in the city earlier in the day.

The HDP held its fourth provincial congress in Istanbul on Sunday, electing new co-chairs for its office in the province. During the congress, the audience raised their index and middle fingers as a sign of victory while a Kurdish revolutionary song was played.

The Counterterrorism Department of the Directorate General of Security said in a statement on Sunday evening that they had launched an investigation regarding the alleged chanting of PKK slogans in the congress following a criminal complaint by Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The Department claimed that “attendees of the congress chanted slogans praising the leader of the terrorist organization as well as organizational anthems,” referring to PKK’s jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Ferhat Encu, the newly-elected co-chair of HDP’s office in Istanbul, was targeted by pro-government media on Sunday, claiming that he had previously received training from the PKK.

Encu told Rudaw English on Monday that the attendees of the congress were expressing themselves freely and the party did not intervene, adding that “the important thing is that our people made their decision.”

He claimed that the investigation “is the continuation of the attacks against the HDP. They want to pressure the HDP through these legal mechanisms. However, these are invalid hopes.”

“Nothing happened in our congress that violated the law,” said Encu.

Some Turkish officials accuse the HDP of being the political wing of the PKK, but the party has denied the claim. Thousands of the party’s officials, former lawmakers, and members have been arrested over the last few years, including former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag.

Several HDP members and officials were detained on Saturday during raids by the security forces in Sirnak province following the interior minister’s claim that a lawmaker from the party was involved in the death of the brother of an official from the ruling party.