Turkish authorities have launched a probe against a legislator from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) on suspicion of affiliation to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group.
Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office took the measure against Dirayet Dilan Taşdemir on Sunday, after Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told Turkish-language A Haber television news network the previous day that the 38-year-old lawmaker had recently visited the northern Iraqi region of Gara.
The probe came after Turkey’s military chief said earlier this month that PKK militants had killed 13 Turkish civilians in northern Iraq.
“In a search of a cave taken under control, the bodies of 13 of our abducted citizens were found. In a first inspection it was determined that 12 of our innocent and unarmed citizens were shot in the head and martyred and one shot in the chest and martyred,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said.
“According to initial information given by two terrorists captured alive, our citizens were martyred at the start of the operation by the terrorist responsible for the cave,” he noted at the operation’s control center near the Iraq border, which he was visiting with military officials.
The PKK said the 13 men had died when Turkish forces bombed the cave, where the captives were being kept.
Taşdemir dismissed Soulu’s allegations in a post published on her Twitter page, and described them as “a big lie and slander.”
“The interior minister of this country made a statement giving my name based on the so-called accounts of one person. We will prove that this is a giant lie and slander,” she wrote.
The Turkish government has long accused the HDP of having links to the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the US as well as the EU, and has been calling for an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984.
In January, the 21st Heavy Penal Court in Ankara found former HDP lawmaker Ferhat Encu guilty of sharing pro-PKK posts on his social media accounts, calling for an uprising against the Ankara government, and working to split up a portion of the Turkish territory. He was sentenced to six years, nine months and seven days in jail.
A court in Turkey’s southeastern Kurdish city of Diyarbakir also sentenced former Kurdish MP Leyla Guven to more than 22 years in prison on terror-related charges back on December 21 last year.
The court also issued an arrest warrant against the 55-year-old former member of parliament from the HDP.