Some 20 Kurdish politicians and activists were arrested today after prosecutors in Ankara issued warrants for 82 people accused of inciting public unrest and abetting terrorist acts and propaganda. The charges stemmed from deadly riots that erupted six years ago across the mainly Kurdish cities in the southeast when the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani on the Turkish border was besieged by the Islamic State. Incensed by the Turkish government’s refusal to come to Kobani’s aid, thousands of Kurds took to the streets. The protests turned violent, leaving 46 people dead and over 600 others wounded.
Prosecutors accuse the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) of igniting the unrest in tandem with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The mayor of the eastern city of Kars, Ayhan Bilgen, and three former HDP lawmakers were among several prominent HDP members who were detained today. The Ankara chief prosecutor's office said indictments were being drawn up for seven other HDP lawmakers over their alleged connection to the riots.