Sezai Temelli, the leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has called on all members of the parliament to speak out against the recent arrest of HDP mayors and their replacement with state-appointed officials, the T24 news portal reported on Wednesday.
A total of 12 mayors from the pro-Kurdish party have been dismissed from their offices since they won their positions in the March 31 local elections, with some of them also being arrested on terror-related charges.
Temelli on Wednesday spoke prior to a sit-in protest held in the Kurdish-majority southeastern province of Diyarbakir as part of HDP’s three-day boycott of the Turkish parliament.
“This is our call to all the lawmakers [in the parliament]. Do not stay silent in the face of this tyranny. Do what you must do with the power given to you by the law. If you don’t, know that the state-officials will also be appointed to [replace] you,” the HDP leader warned on Wednesday.
“[Appointment of] state officials are [a form of] violence, tyranny. It is a fascist system. Members of the parliament, before others, should oppose this,” Temelli also said.
He also commented on the recent arrest of the pro-Kurdish party’s Selcuk Mizrakli, former mayor of Diyarbakir, in August was replaced with a ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) official.
“They are arresting our friends by way of the tyranny of appointing state officials. Our friends currently in jail have no fault. Even if only a person remains from us [members of the Kurdish political movement], we will continue our fight against this order,” he vowed.
Among those who attended the event besides Temelli were the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) Co-chairs Leyla Guven and Berdan Ozturk, the Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK) Co-Spokesperson Gulistan Kilic Kocyigit, the Turkey Workers’ Party (TIP) Chairman Erkan Bas and a number of HDP lawmakers.
Also speaking on Wednesday’s protest, TIP’s Bas held forth that the governing AKP was doing everything in its power to create enmity between Turks and Kurds.
“Nevertheless, let all the Kurdish people know that there are millions of laborers in Turkey whose hearts beat in Diyarbakir with the ideas of living with Kurds in peace, brotherhood, and solidarity,” Bas underlined.
The Turkish government’s crackdown on the Kurdish political movement was intensified after peace talks between Ankara and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) broke down in 2015.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AKP government accuses the pro-Kurdish HDP of acting in the interest of the PKK, an armed militant group that has waged an armed insurgency for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since 1984.