Turkey arrests ousted pro-Kurdish HDP mayor on terror charges

The recently-ousted co-mayor of Turkey’s southeastern province of Diyarbakir, Selcuk Mizrakli has been arrested on charges of being a member of a terrorist organization, news website Arti Gercek reported on Tuesday.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)’s Mizrakli, along with mayors of southeastern Van and Mardin provinces also from HDP, was stripped of his post on August 19 as part of a major terror investigation.

According to a report by Remzi Budancir from Arti Gercek, the former Diyarbakir mayor was arrested for membership in the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on Tuesday, following his detention carried out a day earlier.

Designated as a terrorist organization by the Turkish government, the PKK is an armed militant group that has waged a separatist insurgency in pre-dominantly Kurdish southeastern Turkey for more than three decades.

“We have not truckled [to anyone] and we will never [do that]! Let this [fact] trouble them!” was Mizrakli’s first reaction to his arrest posted on his official Twitter account on Tuesday.

Kayapinar Municipality Mayor Kezban Yilmaz, Bismil Municipality Mayor Orhan Ayaz, and Kocakoy Municipality Mayor Rojda Nazlier, all of them from the pro-Kurdish HDP, were also detained on Monday.

Sozcu daily reported very early on Wednesday that mayors Yilmaz and Nazlier were also arrested on terror charges while the court ruled to release Ayaz under judicial supervision.

HDP’s Ercis Municipality Mayor Yildiz Cetin, who was detained on the same charges last week, was also arrested by a court on Tuesday.

Turkey’s Ministry of the Interior also announced on Tuesday that mayors Yilmaz, Nazlier, Ayaz, and Cetin were replaced by officials appointed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

A total of 12 pro-Kurdish HDP city and district municipality mayors, who came to their offices after the March 31 local election have been replaced with AKP-appointed officials as part of the terror investigations against them.

Critics claim that the ruling AKP plans to get back the municipalities it lost during the local polls to the pro-Kurdish party by way of the terror operations.

Ankara’s crackdown on the Kurdish politicians has gained momentum following a military offensive launched on October 9 in northern Syria by the Turkish government against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-dominated militia that it believes is linked to the PKK.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has defined the pro-Kurdish HDP, the only political group in parliament who opposed the country’s incursion into Syria, as the “political extension” of the outlawed PKK.

The party denies having any connections to the Kurdish militants in Turkey.

The Turkish state also detained nearly 200 social media users and arrested dozens of them for their posts criticizing the military action in Syria dubbed Operation Peace Spring.

European Parliament condemns removal of Kurdish mayors

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