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Turkey Arrests Dozens of Members of Pro-Kurdish Party, DTP

Turkish authorities have rounded up dozens of members of the country's main pro-Kurdish party, the Kurdish Democratic Society Party, or DTP, as part of operation said to be aimed at the banned Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. The detentions come after the DTP heavily defeated the ruling AK party in last month's local elections.

In the early hours Tuesday morning police raided offices and homes of members the pro Kurdish Democratic Society Party or DTP.

Among those detained were two deputy leaders of the party. A local TV station was also raided.

Authorities say the raids were aimed at the banned PKK party, which has been fighting the Turkish state for more than two decades.

Security force officials often accuse the DTP of being a front for the PKK, a charge strongly denied by the party. The leader of the DTP, Ahmet Turk, addressing his parliamentary deputies angrily attacked the raids.

Turk said the operation is a very clear indication of the intolerance of the ruling party to the election results. He says, the operation which aimed at the 4th biggest party in the country is outside the law and outside democracy.

The DTP heavily defeated the ruling AK party in the predominantly Kurdish Southeast of the country, in last month's nationwide local elections, which Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had high hopes of winning.

During elections, both sides accused the other of undemocratic tactics. Since the vote the mood has gone from bad to worse. Mr. Erdogan accused the Kurdish party of intimidating voters and Tuesday's arrests will only add to tensions, according to columnist and political scientist Nuray Mert.

"Arrests apparently did not mean to be provocation but at the end of the day it provokes the party, another wave of harsh discourse will come out , and it will turn out to be a vicious cycle of provocations of each othe," Mert said. "It does not lead anywhere or it leads to a major confrontation, god forbid."

The rising political tensions and fiery rhetoric is a far cry from the beginning of the year when the prime minister proudly launched a state run TV channel devoted to Kurdish. The new broadcast was seen as groundbreaking considering the strict controls on the use of the Kurdish language in Turkey.

That move had been welcomed by E.U. officials in Brussels. The policy also sought to undermine support for the pro Kurdish DTP. But with that policy in tatters hopes for further reforms like allowing Kurdish being taught in schools will be a hard sell to conservative members of his party - according to Abdurrahman Kurt a Kurdish member of parliament for the ruling AK party.

"Perhaps it will slow down , I am not sure about but it is danger, because to develop democracy between each groups from now on will not be effective for showing that democracy is a good way for solving this problem in the eyes of status quo believers," Kurt saud.

According to an opinion poll half of AK party supporters opposed its pro-Kurdish polices and those voices are expected to get louder in the wake of the local election defeat. Analysts warn the latest arrests will almost inevitably add to the deepening polarization in the country.