AKP municipality removes Kurdish letters in signs for southeastern villages

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) district municipality in the southeastern Mardin province has removed the Kurdish letters in a number of signs for local villages, Artı Gerçek news site reported on Saturday.

Municipal authorities in Artuklu have changed the labels for the Kurdish-majority villages, replacing the letters “x,’’ “w’’ and “q,’’ used in the Kurdish language, with the letters “h,’’ “v’’ and “k,’’ respectively, it said.

The ruling AKP won the city of Artuklu in the March 2019 elections, receiving 53.48 percent of the votes.

Ahead of the 2019 polls, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling AKP exerted efforts to attract Kurdish voters, believed to hold a key role in elections, but the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) won 65 municipalities in the mostly Kurdish-populated eastern and southern provinces of the country. 

Forty-seven of those municipalities are currently run by government appointed trustees as part of Ankara’s crackdown on the HDP, which it accuses of harbouring sympathies for and acting in the interest of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war in Turkey for Kurdish self rule for almost 40 years.

Locals reacted to the changes made to the signage after the municipality shared the development on Twitter.

“We are continuing the installation of our direction and distance signs,’’ the municipality said, prompting a series of responses pointing out that many of the Kurdish village names had been printed incorrectly, calling for them to be fixed.

Meanwhile, Artuklu HDP council member Mehmet Ali Amak said the party would be taking steps to ensure the signs are corrected. 

“This will be on our agenda in our first HDP council meeting this year,’’ Amak said. “We expect that this error will be rectified.’’