Dismissed Kurdish mayors, politicians in Turkey conditionally released

Ten local politicians and mayors from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) removed from office on May 15 by Turkey’s Interior Ministry, have been released under judicial supervision, the Mezopotamya news agency reported.

Berivan Helen Işık and Peymandara Turhan, the co-mayors of Siirt, a southeastern province with a large Kurdish and Arab population; Ramazan Sarsılmaz and Özden Gülmez, the co-mayors of Baykan, a district of Siirt; Baran Akgül and Esmer Baran, the co-mayors of Kurtalan, a district of Siirt; and Siirt Municipality employees Eşref Tekin and Gülçin Köneş as well as Beşir Aksu and Resul Kaçar, who had earlier been denied the mandate to govern after  winning the municipal elections, were sent to court after giving depositions at the police station.

Turhan, Baran, Tekin, Köneş, Kaçar and Aksu were released under judicial supervision. The remainder were released under house arrest.

Beşir Kaya, an HDP member who has been waiting in front of the courthouse for four days, reacted to the practice of appointing trustees to run the municipalities and described the situation as “persecution” and “an insult to the Kurdish people,” adding: “It is nothing but persecution. We win the municipalities every time. They appoint trustees every time. We will not accept it.”

The HDP appoints one male and one female mayor to promote gender equality, calling them co-mayors, although only one is recognized by the central government.

Since the local elections in March 2019, 45 out of 65 mayors from the HDP have been removed, while six mayors were denied the mandate to govern by the Supreme Election Board (YSK) although they won the municipal elections. The HDP currently has 12 mayors. Twenty-one HDP co-mayors are still under arrest.

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