The Turkish government dismissed three mayors belonging to the HDP who are accused of maintaining connections with the PKK terrorist organisation.
Turkey’s interior ministry has removed three mayors in prominent cities on the grounds that they are linked to the PKK, designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US, NATO and the EU.
The mayors in question are Ahmet Turk, who was leading Mardin’s metropolitan municipality, Adnan Selcuk Mizrakli, heading up Diyarbakir’s metropolitan municipality, and Bedia Ozgokce Ertan, who was leading Van’s metropolitan municipality.
The mayors’ tasks have been assigned to the provinces’ governors respectively.
Turkish prosecutors have launched investigations into all of the removed mayors, who have been accused of committing crimes ranging from being part of the PKK terror group to generating propaganda in favour of the PKK. They have also participated in the funerals of the dead PKK members, according to Turkey’s interior ministry.
The PKK has carried out a three-decades terror campaign against the Turkish state, costing tens of thousands of lives and enormous financial losses to the country.
“PKK terrorist organisation, which has been badly weakened as a result of [Turkey’s] decisive fight against terror in recent years, and its extensions have used the municipality resources for illegal purposes because some mayors allowed [them to do so],” said the interior ministry statement, which announced the dismissal of the mayors.
The dismissals are based on Article 127 of the Turkish constitution and the Municipality Law of the Code 5393, which state that mayors can be removed from their posts if there is evidence that they are "linked to and supported terrorist organisations."
According to the statement, the HDP mayors allowed their municipalities “to support terrorist activities” attempting to turn them into “logistic centres” for the PKK to gain supporters, “financial sources and equipment”.
“They even went further by trying to separate these municipalities from our country’s other regions in order to create a new governance model, challenging the country’s indivisible character as a state and as a nation,” the statement said.
The main opposition CHP, along with the HDP, has criticised the dismissal of the mayors saying that it is “not a legal decision but a political” decision.
"The municipalities that we won on March 31 are being reassigned to trustees. It is being done on completely fabricated grounds,” HDP spokesman Saruhan Oluc said in a statement.
Before the recent local elections in April, all of the HDP mayors had previously been removed from their posts on the grounds that they were linked to the PKK. They were replaced by kayyums, central government-appointed trustees, following the collapse of Turkey’s peace process after the PKK launched bloody trench warfare in the country’s southeast and eastern regions in mid 2015.
During Turkish security forces operations to raise trenches in several southeastern and eastern districts, it had been revealed that HDP mayors used municipality resources to support the PKK's trench warfare.
Although kayyums were initially criticised by the HDP leadership for being directly appointed by Ankara and replacing the region’s elected mayors, they made a significant mark on the region. Locals seem to appreciate their role in building new roads and addressing their day-to-day grievances.
Before the April local elections, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the HDP leadership to stay away from the PKK or face the consequences.
“They [HDP] say we will take back [municipalities in April elections], where kayyums have been appointed. If my citizens let you have an opportunity to take back [these municipalities] and you [HDP mayors, again] allow state resources to be used by the Qandil [a mountainous area in northern Iraq where the PKK leadership is located], we will reappoint our kayyums to [those municipalities] without any hesitation,” Erdogan said during a speech on February 25.