Turkey dismisses eight pro-Kurdish party mayors in east

(Re-leads with new dismissals, update to total replacements)

Turkey has dismissed eight mayors elected in last year's local elections for the mainly-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) from their posts on Monday, Diken new site reported.

The mayors of the eastern province of Batman, as well as the Silvan, Lice, Eğil and Ergani districts in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, were replaced with appointees, it said.

The district mayors of Güroymak in the eastern province of Bitlis, Gökçebağ in the southeastern province of Siirt and Halfeli in the eastern province of Iğdır were also replaced with state-appointed officials, it said.

The mayors of Ergani and Silvan were detained by the police, Diken said.

The government is expected to allocate the mayors’ duties to the local governors, as it has done with dozens of HDP mayors who have been dismissed since being elected last year.

The total number of HDP mayors removed from their posts since the local elections has reached 40.

The government escalated its crackdown against pro-Kurdish politicians after launching a military offensive against Kurdish-held territories in northern Syria last October.

The Turkish government accuses the HDP of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for self-rule in southeast Turkey for more than 30 years. 

Ankara has intensified a crackdown on the Kurdish political movement since peace talks with the PKK broke down in 2015. HDP lawmakers and mayors have frequently been dismissed from their roles or faced legal charges in the years since.