The Turkish government’s assault on Kurdish municipalities continues full force! (HDP statement)

The Erdoğan-AKP regime’s onslaught on Kurdish municipalities has gained new momentum. On November 16th, Mr Tuncer Bakirhan, co-mayor of Siirt, as well as Mr Mehmet Ali Bul and Ms Nurhayat Altun, co-mayors of Dersim (Tunceli), were detained as a part of AKP’s ever expanding war on elected Kurdish representatives. Mr Bakirhan, Ms Altun and Mr Bul were later arrested and sent to prison. The government immediately appointed two deputy governors as trustees to replace the co-mayors and run Siirt and Dersim municipalities.

The next day, on November 17th, the Turkish police raided the metropolitan municipality of Van and detained co-mayor Mr Bekir Kaya, who had received 53.2 percent of the votes in the local elections in 2014. Local people and municipality employees protesting the detention of Mr Kaya were tear gassed and detained by the police keeping the city hall under siege. Following the detention of Mr Kaya, and without a court decision, the central government appointed a trustee to run Van municipality. On the same day the government also dismissed the co-mayor of Mardin, Mr Ahmet Turk, and appointed the city governor as a trustee to run the municipality.

This continuing destruction of Kurdish local governments is based on an emergency rule decree (No 674) dated September 1st, 2016, which granted the Ministry of Interior the power to appoint trustees to replace elected co-mayors. On September 11, the Ministry had appointed trustees to replace 24 Kurdish municipalities based on this decree.

On October 31st, Ms Gultan Kisanak and Mr Firat Anli, co-mayors of Diyarbakir were arrested. The next day, the Ministry of Interior appointed a district governor as a trustee to run Diyarbakir municipality. In addition to this unlawful crackdown on Kurdish municipalities and co-mayors, 10 HDP MPs, including co-chairs Mr Selahattin Demirtaş and Ms Figen Yüksekdağ, were also arrested and sent to prison on November 4th, 2016. So far, 53 co-mayors have been dismissed and 39 co-mayors have been arrested. The government has appointed trustees to run 34 Kurdish municipalities. This continued assault of the government assumes the democratic will of millions of Kurdish voters as null and void and undermines the already weak dynamics of local democracy in the country.

The government has accused the Kurdish municipalities of funneling money to the PKK. However, these municipalities, long operating with transparency, have shared the details of their budgets on banners, billboards, official websites, and in the media on various occasions. Although officials of the Ministry of Interior have meticulously inspected the budgets and financial accounts of these municipalities for months, they could not find any single piece of evidence to justify these accusations.

Please find attached a list of dismissed and/or arrested co-mayors as well as the municipalities to which trustees have been appointed.

Hişyar Özsoy Vice Co-chair of HDP Responsible for Foreign Affairs Deputy for Bingol

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