Police intervene in protests in Kurdish-majority provinces, Istanbul over dismissed mayors

Police have intervened on a number of protests in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority provinces of Mardin, Van and Diyarbakır, following the removal on Monday of newly-elected Kurdish mayors from their posts and replacement with state-appointed governors.

A total of 400 people were detained on Monday alongside the ousting of the Kurdish mayors, who were elected in the March 31 local elections, over alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Police used gas bombs and armoured water cannons on a large group of people gathered in front of the Diyarbakır Municipal headquarters to protest the dismissals. A number of people, including pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Batman deputies Feleknas Uca and Ayşe Acar Başaran, were injured, independent news site T24 reported.

Police have closed Elazığ and Lise streets around the municipality to traffic, however, the crowds are refusing to disperse, T24 said.

Police in Mardin province stopped a group a people, including HDP lawmakers and members en route to attend a press conference in front of the HDP headquarters, pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency said.

The Mardin Governor’s office on Monday announced a ban on all public protests in the province for one month.

HDP lawmakers and citizens held a sit in protest in Van. Police intervened on the group chanting “Side by side against fascism,‘’ news site Dokuz8 Haber reported. 

Elsewhere in Istanbul, police intervened on a group of protesters who gathered in front of the Çağlayan Court House.

HDP deputies Ahmet Şık and Züleyhan Gülüm were injured when police attacked a group of lawyers and pro-Kurdish HDP lawmakers, sendika.org website reported. 

A total of six journalists were detained in Diyarbakır, Mezopotamya said.

The mayors of three major southeastern cities who have been replaced by state-appointed officials are accused of various crimes including membership of a terrorist organisation and spreading terrorist group propaganda.

The dismissal of the mayors has sparked international reactions with the EU and the Council of Europe stating their removal puts into question the democratic outcomes of the 31 March elections.