Turkish court acquits dismissed Kurdish mayor Ahmet Türk

A Turkish court on Friday has acquitted Kurdish politicians Ahmet Türk, dismissed mayor of the southeastern Mardin province, and Necla Yıldırım, former mayor of Mardin’s Mazıdağı district, pro-Kurdish news agency Mezopotamya reported on Friday.

The case had been cited as one of the reasons for dismissal in the interior ministry’s decision to remove Türk from his seat as mayor in 2016 and again in 2019 after his re-election. The decision to dismiss Yıldırım in 2016 also referred to the same case.

Türk and Yıldırım, as well as other members of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), faced charges of terrorist propaganda for attending the funeral ceremony of a member of the Syrian-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey considers to be the Syrian wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

All charges against Türk were politically motivated, Türk’s lawyer Erdal Kuzu was quoted by Mezopotamya as saying during the hearing. 

Türk’s attendance to the funeral did not constitute any act of violence or praise of the YPG, and served the purpose of offering condolences to the family who were Türk’s constituents, Kuzu said. “A prison sentence could lead to the punishment of all people in the region.”

The interior ministry has removed from office 23 of the 65 HDP mayors since the local elections in March 2019, on allegations of terrorism ranging from propaganda to leadership, while a total of 95 mayors elected from HDP’s sister Democratic Regions Party (DBP) were removed from office following the breakdown of a peace process between Turkey and the PKK in 2015.