Dismissal of Kurdish mayors undermines Turkish democracy - Dutch foreign minister

The Netherlands is deeply concerned over Turkey’s removal of multiple Kurdish mayors in its southeast and the significant blow to move deals to the nation’s democracy, Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Stef Blok told lawmakers at The Hague on Friday.

Ankara’s decision to sack “elected mayors is a serious concern since it undermines the outcome of the democratic processes,” Kurdistan24 news outlet quoted Blok as saying.

The Turkish government last month dismissed the mayors of Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van provinces, Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı, Ahmet Türk and Bedia Özgökçe Ertan respectively, 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. 

The dismissals, the latest in a string of moves targeting the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), sparked nationwide protests and international condemnation.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the EU Commission, among others, blasted Ankara over the move, with the latter saying it placed Turkey’s respect of democratic outcomes into question.

The European Parliament on Wednesday issued a joint motion for a resolution that called on Ankara to reinstate the removed Kurdish mayors who had won the March 31 local elections, however had been “prevented from assuming office.”

Blok said the Dutch government, along with EU states, has also been monitoring court cases against politicians in Turkey.

“In this way, the Netherlands expects Turkey to accept the standards of a functioning constitutional state,’’ Blok added.

Turkey accuses the HDP of links to the outlawed PKK and has intensified a crackdown on the group following the breakdown of the peace process between the ruling Justice and Development (AKP) government and the outlawed PKK in 2015.