Protests continue in Turkey’s southeast against dismissed Kurdish mayors

Turkish police on Sunday formed barricades and used tear gas on protesters in Turkey’s eastern and southeastern provinces of Mardin, Diyarbakır Van, whose pro-Kurdish opposition party mayors on Monday were dismissed and replaced with government-appointed officials.

Police intervened in protests in Mardin and Diyarbakır, using tear gas to disperse the crowds and clashed with a number of protesters, including members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), in Van, independent news site T24 reported.

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.

"Everyone in this country, not just the people of Diyarbkır, Van and Mardin, know that these state-appointed officials have been assigned to facilitate corruption,’’ HDP Istanbul Deputy Oya Ersoy said during Sunday's sit-in protest in Diyarbakır. 

Protesters marched the city carrying a banner that said, "Don't touch my willpower,'' T24 said. 

Meanwhile, eight members of the city council of Van have been removed from duty citing ongoing investigations against the group, it said.

The ousting of the Kurdish mayors is part of an ongoing crackdown which began in the aftermath of the 2015 collapse of a two-year ceasefire with the outlawed PKK on the pro-Kurdish HDP, which Ankara accuses of harbouring sympathies for and acting in the interest of the armed group.

Turkish police used tear gas and batons, detaining dozens on Saturday in protests held in throughout the country’s southeast and Istanbul.