Turkish gov’t dismisses main opposition CHP’s Beşiktaş mayor from post over Gülen links

Turkish government has dismissed İstanbul’s Beşiktaş district mayor Murat Hazinedar, who is a member of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and two municipal council members from their duties on Thursday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement and corruption claims.

The Turkish Interior Ministry has released a statement about the decision for the dismissals, saying Hazinedar and two municipal council members, Avni Sipahi and Çetin Kırışgil were dismissed as part of an investigation.

Hazinedar was dismissed due to investigations that had been conducted into a property holding, for being a member of alleged member of the Gülen movement providing unlawful licenses to tradesmen, the use of public property for private individuals and for taking unfair advantages.

Located in central İstanbul, Beşiktaş is one of the top districts for real estate prices, with several neighborhoods by the Bosphorus and a business center in the metropol.

A couple of hours before the ministry’s statement, Hazinedar held a press conference and dismissed the claims directed against him, saying the municipality have gone through more than 180 preliminary examinations and investigations which found no irregularities.

Reacting to the decision, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Friday visited the municipal building in Beşiktaş as a show of support for Hazinedar. Speaking to people outside the municipal building, Kılıçdaroğlu slammed the government for trying to change the agenda and avoid discussing real problems by dismissing CHP mayors.

Meanwhile, Denying any links with the Gülen movement in a statement in front of the municipal building, Hazinedar recalled that he was elected by 77 percent of the vote in the last local elections. “In democracies, the power given by people is taken back by the people,” said Hazinedar.

Hazinedar also slammed a government decision to impose a travel ban on his wife and child. “The old system that [President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan used to criticize] allowed his [Erdogan’s] children to get an education abroad. But he [Erdoğan] isn’t allowing my child to have the same thing.”

Deputy chairman of the main opposition CHP Bülent Tezcan on Thursday strongly criticized the dismissal of Hazinedar, saying: “The decision of the Ministry of Interior is unjust, not related to the law or justice. The government is part of this plot.”

Battal İlgezdi, the CHP’s mayor of Istanbul’s Ataşehir district, was dismissed by the Interior Ministry on corruption allegations on Dec. 8, 2017.

In initial remarks, CHP Spokesperson Bülent Tezcan said that Hazinedar’s suspension was a “government plot,” and that Hazinedar will use his legal rights against the decision.

On Dec. 8, 2017, Battal İlgezdi, the mayor of İstanbul’s Ataşehir district, was dismissed by the interior ministry over corruption allegations, prompting fury within the CHP. CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu slammed the suspension of a CHP Istanbul district mayor, saying the move had amounted to an “assassination of character.”

CHP İstanbul provincial chairman Cemal Canpolat said on Dec. 11, 2017 that the government plans to conduct corruption investigations into CHP mayors in İstanbul, Aydın, Adana, Ankara and İzmir provinces.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has been removing local mayors, particularly in the Kurdish-populated southeastern region, especially since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Several elected Kurdish mayors were replaced by government appointees under an ongoing state of emergency.

Even though İlgezdi has been removed due to allegations of corruption, the AKP government and its autocratic leader President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have been under fire for having swept corruption charges against their government under the rug. The government’s decision to target only opposition mayors is considered a double standard by many critics.

İlgezdi’s wife, Gamze İlgezdi, is a deputy from the CHP who is among the few politicians in Turkey raising concerns about infants being victimized in a purge that is being carried out by Erdoğan.

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