Members of Melbourne’s Kurdish community rallied outside the city’s Turkish consulate on October 28 to protest the arrests of the co-mayors of the city of Diyarbakir in south-east Turkey.
The two mayors, Gültan Kişanek and Firat Ali, were arrested on October 25 and accused of links to the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK). Kişanek is also an elected member of the Turkish Parliament for the pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party. She is also the city’s first female mayor.
The arrests follow the sackings of 28 elected Kurdish mayors in the region and their replacement with government appointees.
Even before the Erdogan government’s crackdown in the wake of the failed coup, Turkey’s Kurdish regions were suffering massive repression at the hands of security forces.
Mahmut Kahramanm, a spokesperson for the Kurdish Democratic Community Centre, said: “The arrests are a serious violation of human rights and they also undermine any hope of a peaceful settlement of the conflict between the Kurds and the Turkish government.”
The rally called on the Australian government to demand the immediate release of the arrested mayors.