Turkish authorities arrest, replace mayors in Kurdish-majority Hakkari province

A Turkish court ordered the arrest of three mayors of the pro-minorities People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in the southeastern province of Hakkari on terror-related charges, pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency reported on Thursday.

The courts ruled for the arrest of Cihan Karaman, the mayor of Hakkari, and Remziye Yaşar and İrfan Sarı, the co-mayors of the province’s Yüksekova district, amid an ongoing crackdown on Kurdish politicians.

The three mayors have been replaced with government appointees, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Friday. The Hakkari mayor’s duties have been handed to the province’s governor, while district governors have taken over in Yüksekova and Nusaybin, the report said.

Karaman, Yaşar and Sarı were detained by the police on Oct. 15.

At least six other HDP district mayors and council members were also detained in majority-Kurdish provinces of Van and Mardin in simultaneous police raids.

The mayors of three predominantly-Kurdish eastern provinces, Van, Mardin and Diyarbakır were ousted on terrorism charges and replaced with state-appointed governors in August.

Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has taken a hard line against the country’s Kurdish political movement since talks to solve a 30-year conflict with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) broke down in 2015.

The mayors dismissed and arrested this year have been accused of links to the PKK, which has been fighting for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since 1984 and is considered a terrorist group.