Dozens beaten and detained in protests over Turkey’s ousted mayors

Dozens of people have been beaten and detained by police during protests across Turkey against the recent ousting of three mayors by the regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya News Agency (MA) reported on Thursday that among those arrested were senior members from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

A large number of people carried out protests in several provinces across Turkey, including the capital Ankara, western Izmir and southeastern Diyarbakir to react against the suspension of the three HDP mayors.

Members and supporters of the pro-Kurdish party reportedly launched a “Democracy Watch” demonstration in Izmir to make a press statement, however, they were prevented by police from doing so.

MA reported that Turkish police officers on Thursday broke the nose of an HDP executive named Aziz Benli and kicked a lawmaker of the party, Serpil Kemalbay, during the Izmir province.

A number of protesters, including journalists, were beaten and detained by the police during Thursday’s protest that also saw the attendance of HDP MPs Murat Cepni and Hasan Ozgunes Alsancak.

Protesters Oktay Ince, Hacay Yilmaz, Ahmet Tugac and Halil Benli are reportedly among those beaten by police officers while they were being detained.

Protests and arrests in Diyarbakir

In a separate protest in Diyarbakir’s Baglar district later on Thursday, police detained seven people. Among the detainees were Ruken Yilmaz and Tarik Mercan, the co-mayors of the province’s Lice district.

The detentions were reportedly carried out after police stopped protesters from attempting to stage a sit-in and block a road.

Police also intervened against two different groups marching against the mayors ousting in Ankara’s Cankaya district. They detained at least 42 protesters, dragging some of them along the floor in the process of detention.

Gazete Duvar news portal reported on Thursday that the detentions in the Turkish capital took place after police officers did not allow protesters either to stage a sit-in or to make a statement to the press.

The detainees, including politicians Zeyno Bayramoglu, Asli Viyan Sarac, Veli Sacılık, Fatma Kilicarslan, Hasret Irem Korucu, Betul Koca, Fatma Onen and Dilan Karaer from HDP, will reportedly face legal action with the accusation of opposing the “Law on Meetings and Demonstrations.”

The police told some HDP members participating in the event to make the public statement in the provincial building of the pro-Kurdish party, according to a report by Serkan Alan from Gazete Duvar.

The removal from office of Diyarbakir mayor Adnan Selcuk Mizrakli, Mardin mayor Ahmet Turk and Van mayor Bedia Ozgokce Ertan was announced early on August 19 by Turkey’s Interior Ministry.

The ministry claimed the three were removed from office due to alleged involvement in “terrorist activities’ using their posts and that they will be replaced by officials appointed by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of President Erdogan.

The AKP government blames the mayors for having links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an armed group labeled as a terrorist organization by Ankara that has fought the Turkish state for over three decades.

The three were elected in the March mayoral elections that saw the AKP lose control in several cities across Turkey, including Ankara, Istanbul, and Izmir.

The Washington Post newspaper reported that the government may have had ulterior motives for acting against the three mayors, several of whom had promised to investigate the financial dealings of ruling-party members who had previously held the posts.

One of those who had made such a promise to investigate was the ousted Diyarbakir mayor.

Poll reveals over 75 percent of Turkey’s southeast oppose ousting of mayors

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