Turkey removes 15th pro-Kurdish mayor since March over alleged terror links

The mayor of Turkey’s southeastern Kiziltepe district Nilufer Elik Yilmaz has become the 15th mayor from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) to be dismissed since the March 31 local election over terror-related charges.

Gazete Karinca news website reported on Monday that Yilmaz was dismissed from office and replaced with a state-appointed official due to terror-related charges against her.

The Turkish government accuses the HDP of having connections with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed militant group that has waged a separatist insurgency in the country for more than three decades.

The Interior Ministry on Monday announced that Yilmaz was replaced with Huseyin Cam, the current governor of Mardin’s Kiziltepe district.

On Sunday, the night before the announcement of her dismissal, Yilmaz was denied entry to the municipality by police officers who blockaded the building.

“I have not done anything illegal. Why didn’t they [officials] notify me [regarding the dismissal decision]?” Yılmaz asked the police late on Sunday.

“If there’s something illegal going on here, you can solve the issue [with authorities] and then enter this building. You’ll see it [the decision] when the time comes,” an officer reportedly told Yilmaz.

Holding a press conference at the Parliament regarding the issue, HDP Deputy Chairman Saruhan Oluc on Monday said that the replacement of democratically elected mayors with state-appointed officials amounts to “disregarding people’s will and the justice of the ballot box.”

“The ruling power, which is not satisfied with engaging in unlawful practices, also carries out tyranny and torture. And they deny it when we say that they are enemies of the Kurds, but that’s exactly what an enemy does,” Oluc argued.

He criticized Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) for remaining silent to the increasing cases of pro-Kurdish mayors’ dismissal.

“You think and act like this is ordinary, but it’s not. It is extraordinary. … If you do not speak out against this now, you cannot do anything when they usurp the authority of your metropolitan municipalities,” the politician held forth.

The CHP won the mayoral race in a number of Turkey’s largest cities during the March 31 local poll, including the country’s capital Ankara and business hub Istanbul, against the ruling AKP.

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