ypg fighters, kurds army.jpg
Kurdish YPG Fighters
Photograph: Photo by Kurdishstruggle, used under CC BY

A Turkish prosecutor is seeking 15 years in prison for the co-leader of the main pro-Kurdish party for her remarks in support of US-backed Syrian Kurds fighting Islamic State, a party official confirmed Friday.

Figen Yuksekdag of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) faces charges of spreading terrorist propaganda for comments last year in which she praised the People's Protection Units (YPG), a primarily Kurdish group which continues to advance against Islamic State in Syria, backed by US airstrikes.

The move against Yuksekdag comes just after prosecutors said they were seeking five years in jail for Selahattin Demirtas, the other co-chair of the HDP, also on allegations of spreading terrorist propaganda.

Demirtas is in trouble for a speech made in 2013 supporting the peace process, then under way, between the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the state. The peace process collapsed last year and conflict resumed.

Turkey has a history of jailing pro-Kurdish politicians and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan regularly makes known his disdain for the HDP, often accusing it of being a wing of the banned PKK.

In May, the president successfully pushed parliament to lift immunity for 54 of the party's 59 lawmakers, clearing the way for prosecutions. Other parties were also affected by the immunity bill.

The HDP, the third largest bloc in parliament, denies it is an organ of the PKK. The party has called for both the PKK and the government to refrain from further violence and return to talks.

Three other party members face between three and five years in prison, according to the new indictment against Yuksekdag prepared by a prosecutor in Sanliurfa province, CNN Turk reported. The prosecutor's move against Demirtas also included charges for another top party official.

A judge must now decide on whether to proceed, the HDP official told dpa.

Since the violent battles between the PKK and the state's security forces resumed in July 2015, hundreds have died on both sides and hundreds of civilians have been killed.

Much of the violence is focused on the largely Kurdish south-east, where about half of a million people have been displaced. The HDP has won a majority in many of the south-eastern provinces in the most recent elections.

The long running 30-year war between the PKK and Turkey has left more than 40,000 people dead.

The Syrian YPG, which emerged during that country's civil war, is seen as having strong ties to the PKK.

Despite the US classification of the PKK as a terrorist organization, Washington collaborates in Syria with the secular YPG. The most effective fighting force against Islamic State, the YPG has seized large swaths of territory from the extremist group in the past year.

Turkey has been irked by the YPG’s advances, fearing it will stoke Kurdish nationalist sentiments at home. Kurds in both countries have long complained of systemic discrimination, including periods when their language was banned.

Latest news

Messi's last minute penalty saves Barcelona from shock draw

Barcelona beat Leganes 2-1 with a last minute penalty from Lionel Messi in the Spanish first division on Sunday.

At least 30 injured after explosion in Bogota

A explosion in the Macarena area of Bogota injured at least 30 people on Sunday, many of them police officers who were guarding a bull running through the streets of the Colombian capital.

Vojvodina institutions hold conference on Bunjevci's non-Croat ethnic background

There are around 16,000 members of the Bunjevci community in Vojvodina who deny their Croat ethnic background. They are represented by the Bunjevci National Council which enjoys the support of state authorities, and, since the change of government in Vojvodina, of the provincial authorities as well.

SpaceX rocket blasts off from historic launch pad en route to ISS

A commercial rocket built by SpaceX is on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) with a load of research equipment, cargo and supplies, NASA said Sunday.

Defence deals worth 1.2 billion dollars announced at key UAE show

Deals worth nearly 4.4 billion dirhams (1.2 billion dollars) were reached at a major defence show that opened Sunday in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), an official said.

Thousands protest in Malta against controversial press law reforms

Thousands of people attended a demonstration in Malta on Sunday, answering a call by the main opposition party to protest against what it described as a threat to democracy and freedom of expression.

London's mayor calls for Trump's state visit to be cancelled

US President Donald Trump should be denied a state visit to Britain due to his "cruel and shameful" immigration policies, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said Sunday.

'Now more than ever': US scientists gird for confrontation with Trump

Normally any annual gathering of American scientists is relatively non-political. But, with Donald Trump in the White House, things are different at this year's meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Many researchers are worried about their future and are urging colleagues to protest - and remain vigilant.

Int'l conference on post-war monuments in post-communist Europe held in Zagreb

The event was organised by the Zagreb-based association SF:ius in cooperation with the Croatian chapter of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS).

Serbians wouldn't go to war for Kosovo - poll

A majority of citizens in Serbia wouldn't go to war to claim back Kosovo, shows a survey conducted by the Serbian nongovernmental organisation "Belgrade Centre for Security Policy".

Grabar-Kitarovic, Lavrov find solution to air pollution caused by Bosanski Brod oil refinery

Croatia and Russia have found a solution for the problem of air pollution caused by a Russian-owned oil refinery in Bosanski Brod, northern Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has been poisoning residents of Slavonski Brod, a town across the Sava River in Croatia, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said in Munich on Sunday.

Istria border police discover 20 migrants in van

During routine border control, police in the northern Croatian Adriatic region of Istria on Saturday discovered 20 migrants in a van driven by a Croatian national, the Ministry of the Interior said.