Lawmakers stage sit-in protest against suspension of pro-Kurdish mayors

Lawmakers joined the wave of protests against the replacement of three pro-Kurdish mayors with state-appointed officials in Turkey’s three key southeastern provinces by staging a sit-in action in Diyarbakir, Gazete Duvar news portal reported on Thursday.

Early on Monday morning, the Interior Ministry announced that mayors Adnan Selcuk Mizrakli, Ahmet Turk and Bedia Ozgokce Ertan from Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van provinces were dismissed from their offices as part of a major terrorism-related investigation.

Both the local opposition and international authorities reacted with shock against the ousting of three mayors from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) as more than 400 suspects were detained over terror links within the scope of the same investigation.

A number of protests have been staged against the removal of pro-Kurdish mayors in several different provinces by large groups of people that include lawmakers and lawyers since Monday, with many of them ending with violent interventions by Turkish police.

A group of MPs from HDP and its ally parties on Thursday gathered in the Ofis neighborhood of Diyarbakir and staged a sit-in protest in an area that was blockaded by police officers.

Among those who participated in the protest were Diyarbakir’s ousted mayor Mizrakli and MPs Hisyar Ozsoy, Feleknas Uca, Ayse Acar Basaran, Sinan Ciftyurek and Barıs Atay.

During the demonstration, HDP’s Bingol MP Ozsoy held forth that their protests against the “unlawful” appointment of state officials will continue.

Referring to main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP)’s March for Justice in 2017, Baris Atay, the deputy chair of the Workers’ Party of Turkey (TIP), argued that the secular party should come out against the state-led ousting of mayors.

Led by CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the March for Justice was a 450 km (280-mile) march from Turkey’s capital Ankara to business hub Istanbul to protest against arrests that were made as part of a government crackdown following the attempted coup on July 15, 2016.

“We’ll show our alliance [with HDP] by standing side by side both in the street and in the parliament. We have to resist the ruling power altogether in order to repel this attack,” Atay said calling for solidarity between parties. Ciftyurek, the Kurdistan Communist Party (KKP) chairperson stated that suspending mayors from their duties is a “political coup” targeting the will of people in key provinces of Turkey’s southeast.

“Let’s come together against this injustice and unlawfulness. They are targeting the will of [the] people. Let’s protect our [political] will,” Ciftyurek urged.

During the rallies before the March 31 local elections, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that candidates with alleged connections to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) would be removed from the office and replaced by officials from his AKP government.

Turkey labels PKK, an armed militant group that has launched an insurgency for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast in the 1980s, as a terrorist organization.

Turkish police use violence against pro-Kurdish protesters and MPs

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