Deposed Kurdish mayor to run again in upcoming Turkish local elections

Veteran politician Ahmet Turk vows to reclaim the mayor's office in his native Mardin despite President Erdogan's threat to dismiss him and others again.
author_image Rawa Barwari

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkey is going to the polls in March next year, and with the local elections date nearing, Kurdish politicians beleaguered by a massive widespread government crackdown hope to make a comeback, at least those not behind bars.

Ahmet Turk, a veteran figure in the Kurdish movement, announced on Wednesday that he was to run for the Mayor of his native Kurdish Province of Mardin once again, a post the Turkish government dismissed him from over two years ago at the beginning of the crackdown with “terror-related’ charges.

In the last local elections which took place in June 2014, Turk got 52 percent of votes, an amount 15 percent ahead of his nearest rival who was a candidate for the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A government-appointed, unelected bureaucrat is currently running municipal affairs in Mardin after Ankara dismissed Turk from his office.

In the latest presidential and general elections this year in which the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) won a landslide with 60 percent, there were some 400,000 people eligible to vote in the province with a sizable Arab minority and Assyrian population.

Kurdistan 24’s Turkey bureau reported that Turk has officially filed in his candidacy.

“[Victory] is a revanche for us against those who usurped the people’s will,” Turk told the media.

The 75-year-old also had to spend three months in prison as several trials against him went on after he was forced out of office.

Upon his release due to health concerns, Erdogan publicly criticized his own Justice Minister for a court’s decision on the grounds “Turk could walk.”

Up to 60 Kurdish mayors continue to be in Turkish prisons.

Turkey’s President has recently threatened to seize municipalities in the Kurdish region again, as his administration did in almost 100 cities and towns, should HDP candidates win.

The widely-respected Turk, whose family name was given by the young Turkish Republic’s authorities after the introduction of the 1934 “Surname Law,” has served six times as a lawmaker for Mardin at the Turkish Parliament.

In the aftermath of the Turkish army’s 1980 coup d’etat, he survived heavy torture that killed hundreds of other Kurdish and Turkish dissidents at the Diyarbakir military prison which he once described as a place where “there was no God.”

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany