Ousted pro-Kurdish mayor in Turkey’s southeast arrested over terror links 

A former pro-Kurdish district mayor in Turkey’s southeastern province of Mardin has been arrested over terrorism charges, Mezopotamya Agency (MA) reported on Sunday.

Nilufer Elik Yilmaz, former co-mayor of Mardin’s Kiziltepe district from the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), was on Sunday arrested reportedly over membership in a terrorist organization.

She was arrested for being a member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) less than a week after being detained, removed from office, and replaced with an official from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

The former district mayor was sent to Mardin E Type Closed Prison after being arrested pending trial.

Yilmaz is among over 20 pro-Kurdish HDP mayors who were democratically elected in March 31 local polls and have since been dismissed from their duties as part of a government crackdown targeting the Kurdish political movement in Turkey.

Although the HDP denies it, the Turkish state accuses the party of having connections with and acting in the interest of the outlawed PKK.

The government regards PKK, an armed group of Kurdish militants that has waged an insurgency in southeastern Turkey for over three decades, as a terrorist organization.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan previously defined the HDP as the “political extension” of the outlawed militant group.

The ruling AKP government’s crackdown on pro-Kurdish politicians has gained momentum after its two-year-long peace process with the outlawed PKK collapsed in 2015.

Since then, many lawmakers and mayors from the HDP have been ousted from their offices or faced legal charges for their alleged links with the outlawed PKK.

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