Pro-Kurdish HDP holds sit-in to protest ouster, arrest of mayors

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on Wednesday held a sit-in protest the Kurdish-majority southeastern province of Diyarbakır against the arrest of HDP mayors and their replacement with state-appointed officials.

The sit-in is part of the HDP’s three-day boycott of parliament, independent news site T24 reported.

HDP co-chair Sezai Temelli, who led the protest, called on all lawmakers in parliament to  “speak out against the ongoing oppression,’’ referring to the dismissals and arrests of HDP mayors, who have been replaced with state appointees.

Turkey’s Interior Ministry on Monday removed four district mayors from office in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern provinces of Diyarbakır and Van.

The mayor of Diyarbakır Selçuk Mızraklı and two other district mayors were arrested over membership in a terrorist organisation this week.

A total of 12 HDP mayors have been replaced with administrators over alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an armed group which has fought for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey for three decades.

“We are not going to live under a siege. We will tear down the blockades. We are here with our people on the street. This is our town,’’ Temelli said. 

The HDP co-chair said that it was unacceptable for lawmakers to remain silent while state appointed officials were being assigned to replace elected mayors in various towns in the country.

The Chairman of the Turkey Workers’ Party (TİP) Erkan Baş also spoke at Wednesday’s protest.

Baş said that the ruling party was doing everything in its power to create enmity between Turks and Kurds.  

Ankara has intensified a crackdown on the Kurdish political movement since peace talks with the PKK broke down in 2015. The Turkish government accuses the HDP of harbouring sympathies and acting in the interest of the outlawed PKK.

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