Last update: 27-May-2020 8:55
Dismissed Kurdish mayor Mızraklı to receive democracy award
The Istanbul branch of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) has announced the winner of its annual Peace and Democracy Award as Selçuk Mızraklı, the dismissed mayor of Turkey’s southeastern Diyarbakır province.
A member of the majority-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Mızraklı won 62 percent of the vote and was elected mayor in Turkey’s biggest Kurdish-majority province in March 2019. He was removed from office on August 19, and arrested on terrorism charges on October 22.
Charges against Mızraklı, who is also a surgeon, stemmed from witness testimony that - in the hospital he worked at - he had treated members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who had been wounded in clashes with Turkish armed forces. Read the full article
Dismissed Kurdish mayor arrested over terror charges in eastern Turkey
A former pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) district mayor in Turkey’s eastern province of Muş was arrested on Sunday on charges of conducting terrorist propaganda, pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency reported. Casim Budak was removed from office as the mayor of the Altınova district on Friday, along with three other HDP mayors. The officials have been replaced with government-appointed trustees.
A Muş court ruled for the arrest of Budak following a statement the former mayor gave to the prosecutor's office.
On Friday, the HDP mayor the eastern province of Iğdır, Yaşar Akkuş, and HDP deputy, Eylem Çelik, were detained on terror charges, pro-nationalist news website Ulusal reported. “May my smile trouble you,” Akkuş said on Twitter after he was taken into custody.
Anger over the removal of pro-Kurdish mayors in Turkey
The mix of fury and disappointment among residents was palpable inside a cafe in the southeastern Turkish city of Mardin after the government replaced the popular mayor with a trustee.
One year on from local elections, 40 out of 65 municipalities won by the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) are now under the control of government-appointed trustees. In Mardin, the HDP's Ahmet Turk, won 56.2 percent of the vote in March 2019.
But in August he was one of the first, along with those in nearby Diyarbakir and Van, to be removed and replaced by the government.
Six months after the move, residents in Mardin, where the governor now runs the city of over 800,000 people, were especially critical of a lack of service and development. "No one bothers, no one wants to do anything, and no one raises their voice. We're speaking to you now, who knows what will happen to us tomorrow?" cafe manager Firat Kayatar told AFP during a visit late February.
"They may as well not hold elections in the southeast because they had two elections and after both, they appointed trustees," Kayatar, who lives in the old city, said. "No one listens anyway," one of the cafe's customers, Abdulaziz, 57, chipped in. "We can't complain to anyone. (The governor) brings bananas but we need bread."
Another man nearby who did not give his name said young people went to university but were unable to find a job. "This is the problem Mardin faces too," he says.
The party described the mayors' removals as an "attack" on Kurds but the government has accused the HDP of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Kurds make up around 20 percent of Turkey's overall population.
The HDP accused Ankara last month of making it "even harder for the Kurds to fight the coronavirus" through the "repression of Kurdish democratic institutions, their municipalities in particular."
Such actions are not new. Ankara removed 95 HDP mayors after the party won 102 municipalities in 2014.
"When it comes to the HDP, just slapping trumped-up terror charges is the easiest way to go and it's just a political attempt to destroy their legitimacy," said Turkey director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) Emma Sinclair-Webb.
- 'PKK representatives' -
The chairman in Mardin for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling party defended the government's actions, accusing the PKK of using the HDP mayors to obtain control.
"In fact these mayors were Qandil representatives," Faruk Kilic said, referring to where the PKK leadership and rear bases are located in a mountainous region in Iraq. "None of the mayors made statements of their own independent will," Kilic added, a claim which the HDP strongly denies.
The Turkish government has repeatedly accused the HDP mayors of using the municipalities' money to support the PKK, or hiring relatives of PKK militants.
The interior ministry claimed some mayors attended political rallies, demonstrations and even funerals of PKK militants. The HDP says 21 of its mayors are behind bars. The PKK has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, and the group is blacklisted as a terror organisation by Ankara and its Western allies.
The government's aim was to "collapse any distinction between the HDP, a legal party playing by the rules of the game in parliament and democratically-elected representatives from this party, and an armed organisation," HRW's Sinclair-Webb said.
- Economic motives -
Veteran Kurdish politician Turk was acquitted in February in one case cited against him when he was removed as mayor of Mardin the first time in 2016. The AKP's Kilic said if mayors were later acquitted on the charges against them, they would return to their posts, but added "there's evidence against many" charged.
Eren Keskin, of the Ankara-based Human Rights Association (IHD), believed there was an "economic" motive to the dismissals. "The first municipalities they appointed a trustee for -- Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van -- are provinces that are really open to economic development," Keskin said.
Her claim was supported by HDP deputy chairman Saruhan Oluc, who said the government "keeps itself strong through the income and profit from local administrations".
Oluc accused the government of handing out money and favours to their allies as well as companies and foundations close to them through the municipalities' coffers.
Turkish prosecutors level new terrorism-related charges against jailed Diyarbakır mayor
Ankara prosecutors have drafted an indictment for Selçuk Mızraklı, the former mayor of the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakır, for allegedly disseminating terrorist propaganda, the Bianet news website reported on Thursday.
Mızraklı had already been sentenced to nine years, four months in prison in March for alleged membership in the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), based on an informant’s testimony as well as his attendance at events and demonstrations.
Similarly, the new indictment referred to six events he attended as evidence for charging him with disseminating terrorist propaganda.
His participation in meetings held by his party, the Kurdish-oriented Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), an HDP-organized conference on the crises in the Middle East and his support for a hunger strike by HDP deputy Leyla Güven as well as his tweets about Ramin Hossein Penahi, a Kurdish activist executed in Iran, were cited in the indictment. Read the full article
HDP Slams Appointment of Trustees: 30 Million People's Will Usurped in Five Years
"This government, using the authorities in its power, is staging a coup by eliminating people's will. With its policy of trustees, the government is bearing enmity towards Kurdish people. The appointment of trustees is the severest and most apparent example of its enmity towards Kurds. The pro-coup mindset of the government manifests itself in other fields as well.
"The government also tried to discipline CHP municipalities with a blackmail through trustees. While the humanity is struggling against the coronavirus outbreak and has chosen to struggle against it with solidarity, the government has sought to eliminate solidarity and organization of the people. Read the full article
28 March 2020:
HDP mayor faces terrorism charges over ‘planting green beans’
A court in Turkey’s southeastern Mardin province has pushed forward with terrorism charges against a dismissed mayor from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) over her municipality’s support for women’s cooperatives, which were planting green beans, news site Duvar reported on Saturday.
The court cited former Mazıdağı district mayor Nalan Özaydın’s support for the Sarya Women’s Cooperative, founded by a group of women in Mardin, as evidence of her involvement with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Sarya Women’s Cooperative was founded last year after the March 31 local elections, and had started its work by planting green beans in a three-hectare plot, after which the women sold the harvest and launched more agricultural projects in several villages.
The indictment against the former mayor cited assemblies, communes and cooperatives as part of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), which Turkey considers to be affiliated with the PKK.
Özaydın, who was dismissed on Nov. 15 and arrested on Nov. 26 last year, was charged with membership of a terrorist organisation with an indictment based on secret witness testimony that appeared word for word in several other cases, Duvar said.
Other evidence in the indictment included secret witness testimony that Özaydın met with an alleged terrorist, who told another person that the mayor would “no longer be asked for money.”
Turkey detains 5 more Kurdish mayors amid widening crackdown against HDP
Turkish authorities detained the mayors of five municipalities in Kurdish-majority areas on Monday as part of a widening government crackdown on the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the party’s co-leader said, according to Reuters.
Mithat Sancar told reporters security forces had besieged municipal buildings in the southeastern province of Batman as well as those in the Egil, Silvan, Lice and Ergani districts of Diyarbakir province on Monday morning.
He said five co-mayors in four municipalities were detained. He did not give details about the mayor of Lice but said another co-mayor who had previously been dismissed was also being held.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government accuse the HDP of links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group, leading to prosecutions of thousands of its members and some leaders. The HDP denies such links.
The HDP appoints one male and one female as mayor to promote gender equality, calling them co-mayors, although only one is recognized by the central government.
Sancar said the measures on Monday morning were similar to those taken when Ankara appointed trustees in other municipalities, adding that the party had not received official notification from the central government.
“We reject this vile attempt that displays enmity against Kurds even in these difficult days when the whole world is battling an epidemic,” he said.
The Interior Ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Ankara has appointed trustees to 31 municipalities won by the HDP in the March 2019 local elections, an HDP source said, adding that 21 co-mayors had been formally arrested so far, in addition to the six detained on Monday.
The former co-leaders of the HDP have both been jailed since 2016 on terrorism charges, with several other prominent members accused of supporting terrorism over what the government says are links to the PKK.
Turkish court sentences pro-Kurdish ex-mayor to nine years in jail
A Turkish court sentenced on Monday the former mayor of the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, Selçuk Mızraklı, to nine years and four months in jail over membership in a terrorist organisation, Diken news site reported.
The PKK is designated as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. The HDP mayor was arrested on Oct. 22 with prosecutors demanding a prison sentence of up to 15 years. Turkish authorities have replaced dozens of HDP mayors over links to the PKK since the March 31 local elections last year.
Turkish police detain 14 in pro-Kurdish HDP congress investigation
Turkish authorities issued warrants for the detention of 15 people after the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into the HDP ordinary congress, which featured a slideshow including photographs of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader, Abdullah Öcalan, it said.
The PKK is an armed group that has been at war in Turkey for Kurdish autonomy for over three decades. Ankara accuses the HDP of harbouring sympathy and acting in the interest of the PKK.
Police are looking for one more person and the detainees remain in custody at the Ankara Police Department, Hürriyet said. The HDP held is fourth ordinary congress on February 23, electing lawmaker Mithat Sancar and re-electing Pervin Buldan as the party’s co-chairs.
20 February 2020:
Prosecutors file to lift immunity from pro-Kurdish party deputies
A prosecutor’s office in Turkey’s capital city of Ankara has filed requests to lift the parliamentary immunity of five pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputies, T24 news site said on Thursday. Prosecutors presented a summary of proceedings against HDP co-chairs Pervin Buldan and Sezai Temelli alongside 3 other lawmakers to the Turkish Parliamentary Speaker's Office, T24 said.
It was not immediately clear what the accusations against the lawmakers were.
Shortly after the elections, a peace process broke down between the AKP and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an outlawed armed group that has fought for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since the 1980s.
Dozens of high-profile HDP politicians and activists have faced legal action since 2015 due to their alleged links to the PKK, including two of the party’s former co-chairs, Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ.
In January, three municipal council members were replaced with trustees by the Ministry of Interior. HDP's nine municipal council members were removed from office by the Ministry of Interior in Şırnak-Silopi, Diyarbakır-Sur and Bitlis-Tatvan.
17 February 2020:
The people stopped Sarısaç's car and detained Yunus Durdu, an HDP party assembly member on the same day. The state-run Anadolu Agency (AA) reported the detention as "PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party] terrorist found in HDP deputy's home." However, Sarısaç says in the footage he shared on Twitter that the people in the car did not show identity cards. The footage shows the car has a license plate though.
After the detention of Durdu, a separate investigation has been launched against Sarısaç for "aiding and abetting a terrorist organization," "violating Article 6 of the Anti-Terror Law," and "openly insulting a public official because of his/her duty." Sarısaç told Euronews Turkish that he is under investigation for "aiding his party."
15 February 2020:
Kurdish politician acquitted of terrorism charges that led to his removal from office
Prominent Kurdish politician Ahmet Türk, who was ousted from his position as co-mayor of the Mardin Municipality in southeastern Turkey in August 2019, has been acquitted of terrorism charges that were used as a pretext for his removal from office, according to Turkish media reports. Türk is among the dozens of mayors who were elected in the March 31, 2019 local elections from the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) but were later removed from their posts on terrorism charges.
In the latest hearing of his trial at the Mardin 3rd High Criminal Court on Friday, Türk was acquitted of charges of spreading the propaganda of a terrorist organization, namely the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Türk was facing the terrorism charges for attending the funeral ceremony of a Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militant in the Mazıdağı district of Mardin in 2015. Turkey sees the YPG as an extension of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU.
The court ruled for Türk’s acquittal on the grounds that the elements of a crime did not exist. Mazıdağı District Co-mayor Necla Yıldırım, who was also facing the same charges in the same trial, has also been acquitted. Kurdish politicians, particularly members of the HDP, are often accused by Turkish government officials of having ties to the PKK.
Jailed former leader of pro-Kurdish HDP fined for insulting Erdoğan
A Turkish court has ruled the jailed former co chair of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Figen Yüksekdağ must pay 1740 TL liras ($ 291) for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The HDP former co-chair, who has been jailed since 2016 on terror related charges , attended Tuesday’s trial via closed-circuit camera system (SEGBİS), Artı Gerçek news site reported.
His lawyer represented Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, it said. "The case in which I am accused of insulting the president is not a trial, but a political method to extend the life of the ruling party,’’ Yüksekdağ said.
Between 2010 and 2017, 12,893 cases of insulting the president were filed. Of these, 12,305 were filed under the presidency Erdoğan, who assumed office in 2014. Yüksekdağ was arrested in November 2016 along with HDP co-chair, Selahattin Demirtaş.
Turkish authorities seize 32 HDP municipalities in 2019
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) returned 97 mayors in the polls and regained many of the municipalities the central government took over after 2014 local elections.
But the HDP has faced the same treatment since August, when the authorities arrested three HDP mayors of large cities in the predominantly Kurdish eastern provinces on terrorism charges, imposing government appointees to take over their duties. The tally of arrested mayors has risen to 24 since then, and the authorities have taken control of 32 municipalities.
The government says the HDP has close links to the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which began an armed campaign for Kurdish self-rule in 1984. Many of the 4,567 HDP members the party says were arrested last year, and the 797 of these who were formally charged, are accused of supporting the PKK directly or by making propaganda for the group. Turkey, the United States and European Union list the PKK as a terrorist organisation.
Two more Kurdish mayors arrested in southeastern Turkey
In an ongoing crackdown on elected mayors from the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), two district co-mayors in the southeastern Turkish province of Muş have been arrested on terrorism charges.
Bulanık district mayor Adnan Topçu and Varto district mayor Ülkü Karaaslan, who were detained in police operations on Wednesday, were arrested on Thursday after appearing in court. They are accused of membership in a terrorist organization and spreading the propaganda of a terrorist organization.
Ankara accuses the HDP of links to militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). It has now replaced around 30 mayors from the HDP on alleged links to terrorism since municipal elections in March.
In August Turkey first removed the mayors of Diyarbakır, Mardin and Van, three metropolitan cities won by the HDP. All the mayors, who were democratically elected in local elections on March 31, have been removed from office by Turkey’s Interior Ministry. The controversial practice of removing and arresting mayors was also widely implemented during Turkey’s two-year-long state of emergency following an attempted coup in 2016.
11 December 2019:
HDP says 6,000 party officials arrested since 2015
A total of 15,530 members of the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have been detained and 6,000 of them arrested since 2015, according to a report drafted by the HDP, the Bianet news website reported. The HDP publicized the report on rights violations in 2019 on the occasion of Human Rights Day, marked every Dec.10. The report showed that the number of HDP members or officials detained to date 2019 is 674, of whom 200 have been arrested.
The HDP has been one of the main targets of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) particularly after a coup attempt in July 2016, following which the government launched a massive crackdown on its opponents under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.
The report also showed that 20 co-mayors elected from the HDP in the March 31 local elections have been arrested, while 28 co-mayors have been removed from office on terrorism allegations. The controversial practice of removing and arresting mayors was also widely implemented during Turkey’s two-year-long state of emergency following the attempted coup in 2016.
Ankara accuses the HDP of links to militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a bloody war in Turkey’s Southeast since 1984.
6 December 2019:
Muradiye Co-Mayors Yılmaz Şalan and Leyla Balkan, Özalp Co-Mayors Yakup Almaç and Dilan Örenci and Başkale Co-Mayors Erkan Acar and Şengül Polat have been brought to the Provincial Directorate of Security in Van after their houses were searched by the security forces. Blockading the municipality buildings, police officers do not allow people to enter or leave the municipalities.
In Turkey's southeastern province of Diyarbakır, HDP's Bağlar Municipal Council member Naşide Buluttekin Can has also been taken into custody. After searching her house, the police took Buluttekin Can to the Anti-Terror Branch of the Diyarbakır Directorate of Security. She was removed from office with HDP's five other municipal council members on October 22 and a trustee was appointed. (HA/SD)
6 December 2019:
Turkey detains 5 more Kurdish co-mayors from HDP
Muradiye district co-mayors Yılmaz Şalan and Leyla Balkan, Özalp co-mayors Yakup Almaç and Dilan Örenci and Başkale co-mayor Erkan Acar were detained on Friday as part of an investigation overseen by the Van Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Since the local elections of March 31, a total of 23 HDP mayors have been ousted from office and subsequently arrested. Ankara accuses the HDP of links to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). In August Turkey first removed the mayors of Diyarbakır, Mardin and Van, three metropolitan cities won by the HDP. The controversial practice of removing and arresting mayors was also widely implemented during Turkey’s two-year-long state of emergency following an attempted coup in 2016.
A risky step on immunities
By MURAT YETKİNmurat.email@example.com
Turkey sends 3 more Kurdish mayors to prison on terror charges
A Turkish court has arrested three district mayors in the country’s Southeast who were previously removed from office by the Interior Ministry, the Turkish media reported.Savur district Co-mayor Gülistan Öncü, Mazıdağı district Co-mayor Nalan Özaydın and Derik district Co-mayor Mülkiye Esmez, all in Mardin province, who were detained following police raids on Nov.15, were arrested on Tuesday.
The mayors face charges of membership in a terrorist organization.
Ankara accuses the the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) of links to militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). It has now replaced some 15 mayors from the HDP on alleged links to terrorism since municipal elections in March. In August Turkey first removed the mayors of Diyarbakır, Mardin and Van, three metropolitan cities won by the HDP.
All the mayors, who were democratically elected in local elections on March 31, have been removed from office by Turkey’s Interior Ministry.
28 November 2019:
Turkish police continues operations against dominantly Kurdish party
Turkish police have detained members of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in operations in seven provinces on Friday, Evrensel newspaper reported .
Ten senior members of the HDP were detained in Ankara, while the police had arrest warrants for 30 people, including lawyers, on charges of making terrorist propaganda, Evrensel said.
Some 18 members of the HDP detained in Istanbul on Thursday are expected to be formally charged by prosecutors on Friday, Evrensel said. Police also raided the houses of several others on Friday morning.
In the eastern province of Erzurum, three members of the HDP were detained over social media posts dating from 2014, according to Evrensel. ,
Large-scale operations against pro-Kurdish party started on Tuesday in the northwestern province of Kocaeli, where 10 of its members were detained.
Police this week also blocked several attempts by HDP politicians and members to organise demonstrations in solidarity with Leyla Güven, a Kurdish lawmaker, who has been on partial hunger strike for 100 days to protest the isolation of jailed outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan
The governor of the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on Friday banned a rally that was supposed to end in front of Güven’s house, Artı Gerçek reported. Güven is in a critical condition and the Kurdish lawmaker was taken home on Wednesday after she was hospitalised, but refused treatment.