January 23, 2010 / 8:20 PM / 9 years ago

Turkey detains 2 journalists, others in PKK raids

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish police detained 60 people on Saturday, including two journalists suspected of belonging to or aiding the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the state-run Anatolian news agency reported.

The arrests were made in simultaneous raids in three cities in the largely Kurdish southeast and in Istanbul, Turkey’s biggest city, the agency said.

Nevin Erdemir and Alattin Bati, two reporters for the Kurdish-language newspaper Azadiya Welat, were among those detained. Both were charged with belonging to or supporting the PKK and released pending trial, Anatolian said.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to expand Kurdish political rights, as well as freedom of the press, to meet European Union membership standards and end a 25-year war with the PKK, which has sought autonomy in southeast Turkey.

Those efforts were undermined by a Constitutional Court ruling last month that banned parliament’s pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) on charges it has links with the PKK. Judges also barred two DTP lawmakers from politics, prompting violent protests across the southeast at the time.

Also on Saturday, about 400 people who attended an address by a former DTP lawmaker threw rocks at shops and at police in Dogubeyazit near the Iranian border, security officials said. An unspecified number of people were arrested.

Police in the town of Yuksekova near the Iraqi border clashed with a group of people protesting the DTP ruling and the harassment of its successor the Peace and Democracy Party, as well as the treatment of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, officials said. Several people were arrested, they said.

Turkey blames Ocalan for the deaths of 40,000 people in the conflict with the PKK. He is serving life in prison after his death sentence was commuted in 2002.

Writing by Ayla Jean Yackley; editing by Michael Roddy

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