Erdoğan says ousting of Kurdish mayors was right, critics off-base

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the ones who criticise removal of several Kurdish mayors in Turkey's southeast are on a wrong track, Gazete Duvar reported on Saturday.

The mayors of Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van provinces, Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı, Ahmet Türk and Bedia Özgökçe Ertan respectively, were dismissed over alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war in Turkey for three decades, just three months after being elected to office in March.

But many say the ousting of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) mayors is part of an ongoing crackdown, which began in the aftermath of the 2015 collapse of a two-year ceasefire with the PKK, on the party.

Following the dismissals, a founding member of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and former Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç on Sept. 9 censured the decision, saying that ousted mayor of Mardin had nothing to do with terrorism and he was someone who just wants peace.

His words were at the latest AKP executive board meeting's agenda, according to Gazete Duvar.

"Critics of government-appointed administrators make a big mistake. These statements upset us," the news site quoted Erdoğan as saying during the meeting, "What we did was right," he said.