ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) - In Turkey, a government-appointed trustee who on Sunday replaced an elected mayor in the town of Giyadin (Diyadin) removed the Kurdish signboard of the town's municipality he now runs, leaving only the Turkish name.
Diyadin is a Kurdish town in Agiri Province, known as Giyadin among Kurds.
The removal of the Kurdish signboard comes a day after the government seized the Giyadin municipality and 27 others by a decree, accusing their administrations of "aiding and abetting terror groups," including the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that fights for the recognition of Kurdish rights in Turkey.
The trustee, Mekan Ceviren also draped the municipality's windows with Turkish flags and its entrance with a big poster of the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, tweeting a picture of a flag-bearing unidentified man standing in front of the building.
Turkish police arrested Mayor Hazal Aras of the Democratic Regions Party (DBP) last March on the grounds of "membership to an armed terrorist organization and knowingly and willfully aiding the organization."
Hazal was elected with 48 percent of votes as a mayor to her hometown in the 2014 Turkish local elections. She remains in detention without a trial.
In July, 11 members of Giyadin's municipal council, including the deputy mayor were detained on similar charges.
"ASSIMILATION AND RACISM"
Condemning the removal of the Kurdish signboard, the Agiri representative in Turkish Parliament and a Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) member Dilan Dirayet Tasdemir said Turkish authorities have lived in denial of the Kurdish identity and language.
In a phone call with Kurdistan24 English, Tasdemir called Turkish policy toward Kurds forced assimilation, adding that the motive behind the government's seizure of two dozen municipalities in the Kurdish region was not terrorism-related charges but racism.
"They [Turkish State] have been insisting on one country, one nation, one flag and one language for the last 100 years," said the Kurdish MP.
On social media, the move was harshly criticized by Kurds and leftist Turks while far-right nationalists congratulated the move.
"It is obvious that the issue is not the seizure of municipalities. It is intolerance toward Kurdish existence and language," tweeted another MP of the HDP, Ferhat Encu of Sirnak Province.
Turkey's Minister of Internal Affairs Suleyman Soylu objected to the removal of Kurdish words on the municipality signboard in a tweet and said "the issue is terrorism. Kurdish is our language. The signboard of the Diyadin Municipality shall be restored at once."
Meanwhile, hundreds of Twitter users accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of "hypocrisy" after he wished a happy Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha in the two Kurdish dialects of Zazaki and Kurmanji.