Turkey: More elected Kurdish MPs and mayors removed from office and jailed

June 4, 2020
HDP activists hold a banner reading “Trustees are a coup regime" in front of the party’s Cizre headquarters on May 18.

In further attacks on democracy by Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, two Kurdish MPs – Leyla Güven and Musa Farisoğulları – were unconstitutionally removed from office and arrested on June 4. On May 15, four Kurdish mayors – Yaşar Akkuş from Idgir, Berivan Helen Işık from Siirt, Ramazan Sarsılmaz from Baykan, Bara Akgül from Kurtalan and Casim Budak from Muş-Altınova – were detained and removed from their elected positions and replaced with government appointees.

They are all members of the Peoples Democratic Party (HDP), one of the largest opposition parties in Turkey. The Erdogan regime accuses the HDP of being aligned with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is banned in Turkey.

The government-appointed “trustees” include candidates from Erdogan's party who lost the vote in the previous municipal election.

In addition, six HDP co-mayors elected last year were denied their election certificates on the basis that they had previously been dismissed from their jobs by emergency rule decrees.

“Turkish police surrounded the municipalities with barricades,” said Feleknas Uca and Hişyar Özsoy, co-spokespersons of HDP's Foreign Affairs Commission.

“Our mayors were detained in violent early-morning house-raids and replaced with the so-called ‘trustees’, whom we view as colonial officers.”

As of May 15, 45 out of the 65 municipalities the HDP won in March last year have been seized and 22 co-mayors have been arrested.

This means that the will of nearly 3.5 million voters has been completely disregarded, the HDP has pointed out.

Between 2016 and 2018, the Turkish government seized 95 out of 102 Kurdish mayorships and arrested 93 mayors. Fifteen of them have since been convicted and the majority are still behind bars.

Former HDP co-chairs, Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, were among 13 HDP MPs arrested in that period. Additionally, about 15,000 HDP members and functionaries were detained. About 5000 of those are still imprisoned.

The HDP held protests against the regime’s attacks on its mayors on May 18, condemning the crackdown on the elected mayors as a government “coup”. These protests were violently attacked by police and several HDP officials were arrested.

“For some time now the government’s spokespeople have been wasting the people’s time with rumours of a coup. By spreading these rumours they are once again trying to play the victim,” said HDP co-chair Mithat Sancar.

“In reality, they were planning a coup themselves. We just witnessed the implementation of this coup.”

“The people’s will has been completely disregarded. With this policy the government is waging war against the Kurdish people.”

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