HDP mayor faces terrorism charges over ‘planting green beans’

A court in Turkey’s southeastern Mardin province has pushed forward with terrorism charges against a dismissed mayor from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) over her municipality’s support for women’s cooperatives, which were planting green beans, news site Duvar reported on Saturday.

The court cited former Mazıdağı district mayor Nalan Özaydın’s support for the Sarya Women’s Cooperative, founded by a group of women in Mardin, as evidence of her involvement with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Sarya Women’s Cooperative was founded last year after the March 31 local elections, and had started its work by planting green beans in a three-hectare plot, after which the women sold the harvest and launched more agricultural projects in several villages.

The indictment against the former mayor cited assemblies, communes and cooperatives as part of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), which Turkey considers to be affiliated with the PKK.

Özaydın, who was dismissed on Nov. 15 and arrested on Nov. 26 last year, was charged with membership of a terrorist organisation with an indictment based on secret witness testimony that appeared word for word in several other cases, Duvar said.

Other evidence in the indictment included secret witness testimony that Özaydın met with an alleged terrorist, who told another person that the mayor would “no longer be asked for money.”