ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Turkish court in the Kurdish city of Van on Monday sentenced the deposed mayor, Bekir Kaya, and a dozen other local politicians to jail times varying from seven to almost nine years on the ground of membership in a terrorist organization.
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the country’s second-largest opposition bloc at the Parliament, called the ruling a continuation of “political genocide” against the Kurdish people’s representatives.
Kaya who received eight years and nine months has already been in prison since his arrest and subsequent dismissal from his elected post by the Interior Ministry in late 2016 when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration launched a far-reaching crackdown on the Turkish opposition and Kurdish movement.
Arrest warrants were issued for 11 of the defendants who were tried in absentia.
The heavy penal court in Van saw the case for the second time as Turkey’s Court of Cassation in Ankara had earlier overturned a sentence of 15 years initially handed down at the beginning of 2016.
Since 2009, he and others have been at the center of a years-long judiciary and police investigation into KCK, the Kurdish abbreviation for the Group of Communities in Kurdistan, an organization founded in 2005 by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) aiming to implement “Democratic Confederalism,” the jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan’s ideas of self-rule.
Kurdistan 24’s Turkish language service reported that at the court, Kaya said he had not seen a copy of the indictment against him and was thus not given a chance to a fair trial.
“How am I supposed to defend myself? I do not believe a just and lawful decision will come out of this hearing,” he remarked.
Kaya was elected twice with 50 percent of the votes from nearly half a million voters as the mayor of the metropolitan municipality of Van in the local elections of 2009 and 2014.
He is one of some 60 other Kurdish mayors dismissed, jailed, and replaced with unelected custodians appointed by the Ankara government.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany