Turkish police on Tuesday detained 20 people including an ousted district co-mayor in the southeastern province of Şırnak as part of an expanding crackdown on the country’s Kurdish politicians, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Yeni Yaşam newspaper.
The detainees include former pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Cizre district co-mayor Berivan Kutlu, HDP Şırnak branch provincial head Sekvan Kılınç and several other local HDP politicians as well as Democratic Society Congress (DTK) member Ekrem Şavluk.
The DTK, which is the umbrella group of the Kurdish political movement, is considered a “terrorist organization” by Turkey and the legislative branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed secessionist group listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, EU and the United States.
According to a statement from Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Nov. 26, Ankara has ousted 151 mayors from office on accusations of terrorism in the last six years, replacing them with government-appointed bureaucrats.
Almost all the ousted mayors are from the HDP, which Ankara accuses of ties to the PKK.
The Turkish government, which has been waging a wide-ranging crackdown on non-loyalist citizens since a failed coup in July 2016, has arrested hundreds of Kurdish politicians and ousted dozens of democratically elected Kurdish mayors from office on terrorism charges. Former HDP co-chairpersons Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ have been behind bars since November 2016 on politically motivated charges.