Turkey referendum: 152 people detained

Police flank a HDP office in Istanbul (File photo)

152 people have been taken into custody in police operations across Turkey four days before the country goes to the ballot box to vote on important changes to the constitution.

The majority of those detained in early morning house raids are reported to be executives or members of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and and its sister Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP).

According to Dihaber news agency 125 people were detained in Kurdish majority city Diyarbakir and its districts while 27 people were detained in Istanbul.

The police operation also targeted labour activists in southern city Hatay where at least six people were detained. Four people, all of them HDP executives and members, were also taken into custody in southwestern holiday resort Antalya.

At least 9,000 HDP members have been detained and 2,500 imprisoned – including the party’s co-leaders and lawmakers – since a return to clashes between security forces and Kurdish militants in July 2015, according to the party.

The government has been criticised for its crackdown on opposition groups ahead of the constitutional referendum. If passed the reforms will evolve Turkey into a presidential system affording current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan executive powers. Critics have said the new system will erode the separation of powers and concentrate power in the hands of the president.