DIYARBAKIR-AMED, Turkey Kurdistan,— Turkish government removes two more elected Kurdish mayors on “terror” charges, bringing total to 8.
The Turkish government has suspended pro-Kurdish mayors for Turkey’s Çaldıran and Edremit districts over the weekend, bringing the tally of suspended Kurdish HDP officials elected in March 2019 to eight mayors and 56 municipal assembly members.
Medeni Özer, the co-mayor of Edremit district of Van province, and Faruk Demir, the co-mayor of Çaldıran district in Turkish Kurdistan (Bakur) have been removed from their positions for having alleged “links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK),” according to the GazeteKarınca news portal.
They have been replaced with Turkish state-appointed trustees.
Turkey’s Supreme Electoral Council In April 2019 upheld a ban on candidates from a pro-Kurdish party taking office after they won local elections.
The Kurdish HDP had demanded the ban be annulled because the same electoral authority already allowed the candidates to run in the March 31 election.
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has been removing Kurdish local mayors, particularly in the Turkey Kurdistan, the Kurdish region in the southeast of the country, especially since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
Tens of elected Kurdish mayors were replaced by government appointees.
More than 140,000 people were sacked or suspended from the civil service or public institutions after the 2016 failed overthrow of Erdogan.
The majority of those sacked including teachers are accused of links to Gulen but several thousand are suspected of Kurdish militant links.
Thousands of people, including Kurdish politicians, academics and journalists, were arrested and sentenced over links to PKK including a prominent Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas.
Turkish president Erdogan regularly accuses the Kurdish HDP of being a political front for the PKK. The HDP denies the accusations and says it is being targeted because of its opposition to the government.
The PKK took up arms in 1984 against the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to push for greater autonomy in Turkish Kurdistan for the Kurdish minority who make up around 22.5 million of the country’s 79-million population. More than 40,000 Turkish soldiers and Kurdish rebels, have been killed in the conflict.
A large Kurdish community in Turkey and worldwide openly sympathise with PKK rebels and Abdullah Ocalan, who founded the PKK group in 1974 and currently serving a life sentence in Turkey, has a high symbolic value for most Kurds in Turkey and worldwide according to observers.
Read more about Turkey’s policy against Kurds
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