A Turkish court on Wednesday arrested a former co-mayor from the country’s pro-Kurdish party on terrorism charges, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
The arrest of the former Batman provincial co-mayor on Wednesday comes as part of Turkey’s ongoing crackdown on the Kurdish opposition.
President Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey dismissed the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) ‘s Mehmet Demir from his post in March and appointed a trustee to run Batman municipality.
Demir had initially been detained during “terror investigations” after the interior ministry replaced the co-mayors with a state-sponsored trustee. They were both later released.
A Diyarbakir court on July 22 arrested the dismissed co-mayor on a charge of “being a member of a terrorist organization.”
Ankara accuses HDP, the third biggest party in the Turkish parliament, of having ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency that has claimed the lives of more than 40,000 people since 1984.
HDP’s former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, have been in jail over terrorism charges since November 2016.
HDP had 65 mayors elected in the March 2019 local government elections. Erdogan’s ruling AK Party has removed 47 HDP mayors from their posts since then.
Co-mayor Songul Korkmaz, who was briefly detained during the same police operation in Batman municipality in March that saw her and Demir being ousted, denounced Demir’s arrest.
Dün Batman da gözaltına alınan Belediye eş başkanımız Dr Mehmet demir diyarbakırda çıkarıldığı mahkeme de tutuklandı tutuklamayla baskıyla halkın iradesini teslim alamasınız pic.twitter.com/Cbk4eBUcT1
— Songül Korkmaz (@Songulkorkmaz72) July 22, 2020
“You can not suppress the will of people with arrests and oppression,” she posted on her Twitter account.
Human Rights Watch released a report in February, concluding that the Turkish authorities’ removal and arrest of democratically elected Kurdish mayors violate voters’ rights.