DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Kurdistan24) – The Turkish Interior Ministry seized the administration of the Municipality of the Kurdish city of Bitlis on Sunday and appointed a top bureaucrat in the province as a trustee to run the mayor’s office.
The city’s elected Co-mayors Huseyin Olan and Nevin Dasdemir Dagkiran were arrested on Thursday and remanded to prison on Friday in a probe related to “terrorism,” reported the Kurdistan24 bureau in Diyarbakir.
The Co-mayor of Guroymak Mehmet Emin Ozkan, his deputy Senaye Ata, and deputy head of the opposition pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Nazime Avras were also imprisoned.
Guroymak (Norşîn in Kurdish) is a district in Bitlis Province 130 miles northeast of Diyarbakir.
The people of Bitlis elected Olan and Dagkiran with 44 percent of votes in Turkey’s 2014 local elections.
Ankara-appointed governor Ahmet Cinar was to act as the mayor in their stead according to a press release from his office.
With the appointment, the number of Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP)-run municipalities the Turkish Government has seized rose to 36.
The party’s predecessor, now dissolved Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), won 103 municipal administrations at township, city, and provincial level in 2014.
According to an HDP count, and with the addition of latest arrests in Bitlis, the number of Kurdish mayors in detention or prison was 46, among them Mardin’s Ahmet Turk and Diyarbakir’s Gultan Kisanak.
Turkish authorities accuse the elected Kurdish officials of collaborating and aiding the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has been waging a decades-old guerrilla warfare for autonomy against government troops.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany