Trustees Appointed to Kurdish Municipalities of Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van, again!
The Erdogan regime is determined in maintaining its authoritarian and unlawful rule that has been targeting the Kurdish provinces for the last three years. Since the local elections of 31 March 2019, HDP municipalities have been under constant threats and attacks of Mr Erdoganled AKP government and their ultra-nationalist MHP allies. These threats took on a further bearing on 19 August 2019 when the Ministry of Interior removed the co-mayors and disbanded the municipal assemblies of three HDP-held Kurdish metropolitan municipalities of Diyarbakır, Mardin and Van.
HDP municipalities and the popular will that they represent were already severely circumvented, since when the Erdogan regime had declared a two-year-long state of emergency rule in Turkey following the abortive military coup of 15 July 2016, and used this to the end of furthering authoritarian consolidation. In that context, a Government Decree (No. 674) was issued in September 2016, which soon allowed, as a 2017 UN Report noted: “the wholesale replacement of elected officials of Kurdish origin throughout South-East Turkey… with [central government appointed] “trustees.” In most cases, the “trustees” were appointed immediately following the arrest of the democratically elected officials, indicating a high degree of coordination between the judiciary and the executive branches.”1 … Read all in PDF
Letters of Ahmet Türk, Co-Mayor of Mardin , Selçuk Mızraklı, Co-Mayor of Diyarbakir , Bedia Özgökçe Ertan, Co-Mayor of Van
As you know, the right to vote and the right to public office are among the pillars of democracy. Those who are elected by the people can be deposed only by the people themselves. The Kurdish constituency in Mr Erdogan’s Turkey has been de facto disenfranchised by the repetitive liquidation and punishment of their popular will and representatives. As we are writing this letter to you, the government is extending its repressive grip on the Kurdish people in Diyarbakır, Van, and Mardin who protest the expropriation of their democratic will. Over the past week, hundreds of protestors were detained in our cities, and dozens have been injured and hospitalized, including several of our MPs and local government administrators. Letter in PDF
Bios of the Purged HDP Mayors
Ahmet Türk, Co-Mayor of Mardin Metropolitan Municipality
At the age of 77, Ahmet Türk is a veteran of Kurdish people’s struggles for human rights, justice, and democracy in Turkey for the past half a century. A native of the Mardin province, Mr Türk was first elected to the Parliament in 1973. After the military coup of 1980, he was imprisoned in the infamous Diyarbakir Military Prison where was subjected to systematic torture under isolation. In 1987, he was once again elected to the Parliament from the centerof-the left Republican People’s Party (CHP). In 1989, Mr. Türk, along with several Kurdish MPs from the CHP ranks, was dismissed from the Party, when its Kemalist leadership interpreted their participation in an international Kurdish conference organized in Paris, France, as “separatism.” This was a landmark event in the political biography of both Mr Türk and the trajectory of the Kurdish struggle in Turkey, which led to the foundation of Turkey’s first legal pro-Kurdish political party, namely People’s Labour Party (HEP), over the following year. In 1990, Mr Türk was among the eighteen Kurdish lawmakers elected from the HEP list. When the Constitutional Court indicted HEP for closure, Mr Türk acted as a co-founder of its successor the Democracy Party (DEP). In 1994, DEP was closed down on charges of separatism and Mr Türk was de- immunized and imprisoned along with a dozen other Kurdish MPs. Following his release, he continued his leading role in the development of Kurdish legalpolitical opposition in Turkey, acting as a founder of each and every Kurdish political party established in the legacy of HEP tradition and shut down by the political establishment in Turkey. Mr Türk’s unrelenting commitment to developing a space for democratic struggle and peace in Turkey has earned him the standing respect of not only his fellow Kurds but also other persecuted and marginalized communities, such as the Armenian and Assyrian peoples of Turkey. Ahmet Türk was elected the Mayor of Mardin Metropolitan Municipality in 2014 by a large margin. Following the failed coup of 15 July 2016, he was removed from the Office by an Emergency Government Decree. His Office remained usurped by an Interior Ministry appointed trustee until the local elections of 31 March 2019, which he re-won by a landslide 56,4%. On August 2019, Mr. Türk was removed from the Office once again, and replaced by the centrally appointed Governor of Mardin –a gesture that we deem to be deliberately reminiscent of colonial governorship practices. Today as ever before, Mr. Türk stands as the inspirational grey-hair of our struggle for democracy, peace, and justice in Turkey.
Bedia Özgökçe, Co-Mayor of Van Metropolitan Municipality
Ms Bedia Özgökçe was born in Van province in 1975. Following her graduation from law school, Ms Özgökçe took a leading role in the foundation of the Human Rights Association Van Branch. For over a decade as of mid-1990, she focused in her practice as a human rights lawyer on issues related to the rights of refugees, torture prevention, and identity-based discrimination. In the general elections of November 2016 and June 2018, Mr Özgökçe was elected as an MP for Van from the ranks Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). In the run-up to 31 March 2016 local elections, Ms. Özgökçe resigned from her Parliamentary mandate to run for co-mayorship of Van Metropolitan Municipality. She won over 53% of the votes and became first female mayor of Van Municipality.
Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı, Co-Mayor of Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality
Mr Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı was born in the province of Şanlıurfa and has been carrying out his professional and human rights practice in Diyarbakır as a medical doctor since 1992. Since the 1990s, Mr Mızraklı served at the executive board of the Diyarbakır Medical Chamber at different capacities, including branch chairmanship over 2008 and 2010. He is a founding member of the Diyarbakır-based Association for Struggle Against Poverty, SARMASIK, and a member of the Human Rights Association Diyarbakir Branch. In the general elections of June 2018, Mr Mızraklı was elected as an HDP MP for Diyarbakır. In the run-up to 31 March 2016 local elections, Mr Mızraklı resigned from his Parliamentary mandate to run for co-mayorship of Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality. He assumed the Office by a landslide 62.93%.