Turkey replaces newly elected village heads in southeast

Turkey’s Interior Ministry has appointed administrators to replace the elected heads of 11 neighbourhoods in the Lice district of the mainly Kurdish southeastern province of Diyarbakır on the grounds of ongoing investigations or prosecutions against them, news site T24 reported on Friday.

Turkish authorities removed hundreds of elected officials, including 94 mayors, from their posts in the mainly Kurdish southeast in the three years before nationwide local elections on March 31. They were accused of links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought an armed campaign for self-rule since 1984, but many were re-elected at the polls.

The Lice district governor’s office said in a statement the 11 village heads were under investigation for terrorism and drug trafficking charges. A village or neighbourhood head, or mukhtar, is the lowest level of elected official in Turkey and more than 50,000 were voted in at the March 31 polls.

The head of an association representing the 11, Musa Çeçen, said the ministry had discharged them without a court order and so the decision was illegal.