Turkish police arrest head of biggest human rights group, Kurdish officials

Turkish police arrested the head of Turkey’s largest human rights group in a morning raid on Friday, along with three top district officials of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).

Police detained Öztürk Türkdoğan, the co-chairman of the Human Rights Association (IHD), at his home, the group said in a statement on its website. It said it was seeking information about the case.

“We would like to reiterate that Turkey is obliged to protect human rights defenders in line with all the provisions set forth in the United Nations (U.N.) Declaration on Human Rights Defenders along with other international documents it is a party to,” the IHD said.

The arrest of Türkdoğan comes two weeks after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan laid out a plan to bolster human rights in Turkey.

The IHD said the detention came shortly after Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu targeted the group in an address to parliament.

The authorities also carried out simultaneous raids in four districts of Istanbul to apprehend HDP officials, who included the head of the Beşiktaş district office and two senior officials for the district of Kağıthane, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

A top Turkish prosecutor opened a case with the Constitutional Court on Wednesday to shutter the HDP and bar hundreds of its current and former politicians from politics for alleged links to an outlawed Kurdish militant group.