Newly-elected Kurdish mayors in Turkey under investigation after celebrating victory
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Two newly-elected mayors of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) are under investigation for celebrating their party’s election victory in its stronghold cities in recent local elections.
"A criminal investigation has been opened against Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı and Hülya Alökmen, the newly-elected co-mayors of Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality," the HDP said in a statement. "The two have been accused of 'terrorism' for celebrating the HDP’s election victory in Diyarbakir."
In the run-up to the nationwide elections that were held on March 31, Erdogan threatened to replace elected mayors with bureaucrats, should pro-Kurdish candidates win.
"By strategically refusing to run candidates in major cities and encouraging our supporters to vote for opposition candidates, we ensured the AKP’s loss in Ankara and Istanbul," the HDP said.
"Unfortunately, the Government of Turkey has already begun to take legal proceedings against democratically elected HDP officials," it continued. "The HDP received 62.93% of the vote in Diyarbakir, a majority-Kurdish city and center of Kurdish politics and civil society in Turkey."
After the local elections, the HDP won back nearly all municipalities whose mayors and local councils had previously been removed and replaced by state-appointed trustees in a massive crackdown against the Kurds by Turkey's ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party).
Diyarbakir’s previous HDP mayors were among the dozens of elected HDP officials deposed and jailed on "terror propaganda" charges after the 2014 local elections, and the city had been controlled by a state-appointed trustee prior to the 2019 vote as well.
According to the US Department of State’s 2018 Turkey Human Rights Report, over 6,000 HDP members are currently jailed, including nine elected Members of Parliament.
On Tuesday, the US called on the Turkish government to respect the results, especially in Istanbul and Ankara, although the ruling AKP is mobilizing to aggressively challenge its losses.
The HDP statement concluded, "We encourage the United States and the international community to take further action and encourage the Government of Turkey to end politically motivated prosecutions of elected officials."
Editing by John J. Catherine