Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) officials in southeastern Turkey's Mardin called Monday for the release of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan.
The officials made the demand at an election rally for the March 31 local polls. The gathered crowd also chanted slogans in favor of the terrorist organization and its leader.
Speaking at the rally, HDP Co-chairman Sezai Temelli demanded Öcalan be relapsed in the name of "peace."
Meanwhile, a member of the HDP's local organization in western Turkey's İzmir was detained after he hung a portrait of Öcalan on the wall of the election office.
Öcalan, the founding leader of the PKK terrorist organization, was jailed in 1999 for forming an armed organization after a death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He is being held on İmralı Island in the Sea of Marmara.
The Turkish government has long accused the HDP of having close links with the PKK. The HDP is known for its support of autonomy in regions where large Kurdish populations live. Some of its members have been charged or accused of having links to the terrorist organization. Its former co-leader, Selahattin Demirtaş, was arrested in November 2016 over terrorist propaganda.
HDP-held municipalities have also been accused of undermining municipal services, allowing the PKK to dig ditches in the streets and launch attacks on police and soldiers. As a result, Turkey has removed the elected administrations of 93 municipalities in the region for their links to the PKK terrorist group and appointed trustees for these municipalities in 2016. In trustee-run municipalities, damaged infrastructure for drinking water, wastewater and sanitation has been repaired and new infrastructure has been built. Extensive construction work was undertaken by trustees to revive PKK-ravaged southeastern provinces.
Formed in 1978, the PKK terrorist group has been fighting the Turkish government for an independent state. Its terror campaign has caused the deaths of more than 40,000 people including women, children and elderly people. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU. A group of HDP deputies also tried to organize an unsanctioned protest in Van in support of Leyla Güven, the HDP deputy for southeastern Hakkari province who has been on a hunger strike. HDP Deputies Muazzez Orhan, Murat Sarısaç, Saliha Aydeniz and Sait Dede were also among the protesters.
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