Two district mayors from the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in southeastern Van province, who were previously dismissed from their posts, have been arrested on terror offenses.
According to a report by Birgun daily, HDP’s former Muradiye district mayor Yilmaz Salan and former Ozalp district mayor Yakup Almac were among the three people arrested on Monday on the charge of “membership in a terrorist organization.”
Salan and Almac were removed from office and replaced by officials appointed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government last week.
In a statement, the Van Police Department on Monday said a total of five suspects had been detained in Van as a result of a simultaneous operation supported by police officers from Baskale, Muradiye and Ozalp districts on December 6.
The statement added that two of the suspects were released under judicial control while the remaining three, including Salan and Almac, were detained in custody pending trial.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP government has replaced dozens of pro-Kurdish HDP city and district municipality mayors with state-appointed officials over terrorism charges following their election in the March local government elections.
Ankara accuses the pro-Kurdish HDP of having connections to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which it designates as a terrorist organization.
President Erdogan has defined HDP as the “political extension” of the outlawed PKK, an armed militant group that has waged a separatist insurgency in pre-dominantly Kurdish southeastern Turkey for more than three decades.
The officials of the pro-Kurdish party deny having any links to the Kurdish separatists in Turkey.