Aug 19 2019

Live: Turkey's pro-Kurdish HDP set to protest ousting of mayors

9:27 pm - HDP announces roadmap in response to removal of mayors 

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has drawn up a roadmap in response to the removal on Monday of three of its mayors in the provinces of Diyarbakır, Van and Mardin.

The party has announced that all of its deputies will take part in a protest against the dismissals on Tuesday set to take place in front of the HDP headquarters of all three provinces at 11 a.m. local time, independent news site T24 reported. 

HDP co-chair Sezai Temelli will release a statement in Diyarbakır while his counterpart Pervin Buldan is set to hold a press conference in Istanbul. 

The pair will announce that they do not recognise the state-appointed officials who have replaced the HDP mayors in the Kurdish-majority provinces and call on the government to renounce its decision.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

7:51 pm - Police detain protesters in capital Ankara

Police in Ankara intervened on a group protesting the dismissal of Kurdish mayors, detaining at least eight people.

Police used shields to disperse the crowds gathered on Ankara’s Sakarya Street, where the provincial organisation of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) prepared to release statement over the sackings, left-wing Gerçek Gündem news site reported. 

Meanwhile, the Mardin Governor’s Office on Monday banned public protests throughout the province for one month. The Governor’s office cited the appointment of officials to replace the dismissed mayors as the reason for the ban. 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

5:15 pm - Police detain seven in Istanbul protest over dismissals

Turkish police detained seven people in Istanbul during a protest against the removal of three Kurdish mayors on Monday.

Police intervened on a group, which included pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputies, protesting the sackings over alleged terror links in İstanbul’s Taksim Square, independent news site T24 reported.

At least four of the detained are members of the pro-Kurdish HDP, the site said.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

3:18 pm - Former Erdoğan allies Gül and Davutoğlu slam the dismissals

Former ruling Justice and Development Party AKP heavyweights Abdullah Gül and Ahmet Davutoğlu issued statements criticising the removal of Kurdish mayors on terrorism charges on Monday. 

"It is not right for our democracy that newly-elected mayors are removed from duty in this manner," former President and founding member of AKP Gül said on Twitter.

Former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu also slammed the move, calling it "contrary to the spirit of the democratic system."

"It is a necessity of the principle of national will that those who are chosen by election leave by election," Davutoğlu said.

Main opposition Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP) spokesperson Faik Öztrak also criticised the sacking of mayors.

"Mayors have been removed from their posts. The conditions to be a mayor in our country are well known. The rule of law has been disregarded. What was done during the times of the [2016] coup is being done today," Öztrak said.

The municipal websites of all three provinces have been shut down for maintenance, left-wing news site Sol reported. 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

2:21 pm - Turkey starts military operations in three Kurdish provinces

Turkey’s security forces, backed by village guards, have started an operation in three Kurdish provinces to neutralise Kurdish militants.

The force, comprising 129 teams, began work in Van, Şırnak and Hakkari on Monday, hours after Turkey dismissed three Kurdish mayors, Star newspaper reported.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

2:15 pm - Mardin municipality tweets Erdoğan photo, shows loyalty to ruling party

The municipality of Mardin, one of three Kurdish-controlled local administrations taken over by the government on Monday, tweeted a photo of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with the message "we have returned to serve our Mardin".

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1:15 pm -- Police disperse protesters

Police in Diyarbakır are using water cannons to disperse the crowd that has gathered in front of the municipality building to protest the dismissal of the mayor, according to Arti TV broadcasting live on Periscope. 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

11:35 am -- Turkey's main opposition makes dismissals focus of executive meeting

Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) made Monday's dismissal of three Kurdish mayors the main agenda item of an executive board meeting scheduled for Monday. The CHP's spokesman will make a statement outlining the party's position following the meeting, Duvar newspaper reported.
 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

European Parliamentarian Kati Piri wonders if Turkey's government will soon dismiss the new mayors of the country's largest city and financial hub, Istanbul, and its capital, Ankara. 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

10:45 am -- Nationalist leader approves of dismissal

Ultra-nationalist leader Devlet Bahçeli, who is President Erdogan's informal coalition partner, calls Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on the phone to commend him for deposing Kurdish mayors, describing it as an important operation, according to Duvar newspaper. 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

8:35 am local time -- Turkey dismisses three Kurdish mayors for suspected terror activity

Turkey’s Interior Ministry announced early Monday morning that the recently elected mayors of Diyarbakır, Mardin and Van, three key provinces in the country's mainly Kurdish southeast, have been removed from office, alleging they had used their posts to support terrorist activities.

Diyarbakır Mayor Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı, Mardin Mayor Ahmet Türk and Van Mayor Bedia Özgökçe Ertan -- all of whom were elected in March for the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) -- were relieved of their duties, with state-appointed governors temporarily taking over their posts, according to the Interior Ministry statement. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned ahead of the March 31 municipal elections that any candidate affiliated with PKK would be replaced by Ankara. Erdoğan's government had already removed from office more than 90 of the 103 HDP mayors, including Türk, and replaced them with government-appointed officials after the July 2016 coup attempt. In addition, Turkey's election council decided soon after the March vote that at least four HDP district mayors would be barred from office, awarding their posts to second place finishers from the ruling party. 

The statement said that the PKK, which has been fighting an armed insurgency for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since 1984 and is labelled a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union, had been using these municipalities and their mayors for "illegal goals".

Authorities also said nine investigations were focused on Mizrakli, six investigations on Türk and seven on Ertan. Shortly before the dismissals were announced, authorities in Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van cordoned off the municipal buildings and began searching the premises, according to the BBC. 

Mızraklı won 63 percent of the March vote, Türk 56 percent and Ertan 54 percent, running along with their HDP co-mayors. Mızraklı told the BBC that the will of the voters should come before all other concerns, comparing the dismissals to a coup and saying it would undermine confidence in Turkey's democracy. 

"These are three major provinces," he said. "The situation will have strong repercussions for elected officials at the parliamentary level...democracy has fallen further down."

HDP spokesperson Saruhan Oluç described the dismissals as “another seizure by the law of the will of the people, leaving no democratic legitimacy to this government," according to a tweet from German news outlet Deutsch Welle.