Turkish Court Holds 31 in Kurdish Rebel Probe

Posted January 17th, 2012 at 4:20 am (UTC-5)
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A Turkish court has brought charges against 31 people Tuesday for alleged ties to a Kurdish rebel group that is fighting for autonomy in the country's largely Kurdish southeast.

Among those being held are former member of parliament Fatma Kurtulan and politician Tuncer Bakirhan. Bakirhan was the head of a now-banned Kurdish political party.

Turkish police detained the individuals during simultaneous nationwide raids Friday on the homes and offices of members of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, including the Ankara office of Kurdish lawmaker Leyla Zana.

Zana was convicted in 1994 of having ties to the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and spent 10 years in prison. She recently caused an uproar for saying that weapons are “the insurance of the Kurds,” in apparent defiance of Turkey's calls on the rebel group to lay down arms.

Since 2009, hundreds of people, including lawmakers, mayors and journalists, have been arrested for suspected links to the PKK which has waged a campaign for autonomy in southeastern Turkey since 1984. The fighting has killed more than 40,000 people.

Turkey, the United States and the European Union consider the PKK a terrorist group.