Dismissed Kurdish mayor Mızraklı to receive democracy award

The Istanbul branch of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) has announced the winner of its annual Peace and Democracy Award as Selçuk Mızraklı, the dismissed mayor of Turkey’s southeastern Diyarbakır province.

A member of the majority-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Mızraklı won 62 percent of the vote and was elected mayor in Turkey’s biggest Kurdish-majority province in March 2019. He was removed from office on August 19, and arrested on terrorism charges on October 22.

Charges against Mızraklı, who is also a surgeon, stemmed from witness testimony that - in the hospital he worked at - he had treated members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who had been wounded in clashes with Turkish armed forces.

The testimony was later proven to be fraudulent, upon inspection of the hospital’s medical records, but Mızraklı remained under arrest on charges of making terrorist propaganda and PKK membership. He was convicted to nine years, four months and 15 days in prison for PKK membership in March.

The TTB Istanbul’s Peace and Democracy Award is given to prominent advocates of human rights, peace and democracy “to keep alive the memory of Sevinç Özgüner,” - a dentist and member of the  TTB’s central committee who was murdered in her home by anti-communist paramilitary groups in May 1980, before the military coup in September.

Previous recipients of the award include: Ahmet Şık, journalist and former HDP deputy; the Saturday Mothers, an advocacy group searching for some 17,000 people who were forcibly disappeared in Turkey; and Academics for Peace, a group of scholars who have faced intense state scrutiny for releasing a petition against the return of the armed conflict in 2015 after a peace process between Turkey and the PKK failed.