Kurdish parties in Turkey unite to reclaim gov-seized municipalities

The Erdogan administration has seized municipalities in over 100 Kurdish towns and cities after jailing some 60 elected mayors.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Eight Kurdish parties and political movements in Turkey announced Monday a united electoral front ahead of local elections in March to reclaim over 100 town and city municipalities that the central Turkish government has seized and administrated through non-elected officials over the past two years.

The left-wing and ideologically center-right groups led by the largest pro-Kurdish party Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) called their united front “Kurdistan electoral alliance” in a snub to the Turkish state authorities and judiciary highly intolerant to the name Kurdistan, historically used for Kurdish-majority regions in Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria.

The name is unlikely to appear on the ballot per Turkish laws although four participants of the alliance officially have the word Kurdistan registered in their name despite pressure from high courts to remove it.

“The significance of local administrations has risen due to the fact that the national assembly [Turkish Parliament] has been rendered non-functional with the transition to an executive presidential system” under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Kurdish side noted in its public announcement in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir.

HDP and its sister Democratic Regions Party (DBP) put aside differences with the Kurdistan Democratic Party-Turkey (PDK-T) that has close ties to the ruling party with the same name in the Kurdistan Region led by former President Masoud Barzani.

Others that joined forces were the Platform for Kurdistan Democrats, Kurdistan Communist Party, Freedom and Humanity Party, Kurdistan Islamic Movement (Azadi), and Revolutionary Kurdish Democratic Association.

The parties agreed it was imperative to challenge the political hegemony of Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) and far-right Turkish Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and not give in to the threats that Kurdish municipalities will once again be forced to come under direct Turkish government control.

Last October, Erdogan threatened to once again take any municipality won by HDP in the upcoming elections under his control by removing elected mayors and appointing bureaucrats in their stead, accusing them of being “terrorists” despite running in elections.

There are currently over 60 Kurdish mayors imprisoned in Turkey after being removed by the government from their elected posts.

Selahattin Demirtas, the most prominent Kurdish political figure jailed in Turkey, sent a letter supporting the alliance, according to Kurdistan 24’s Diyarbakir bureau.

He said Greater Kurdistan cities such as Kirkuk (a long-disputed region between Iraq and the Kurdistan Region) and Afrin (Turkish-occupied Syrian Kurdistan) as well as those in Turkey were under attack and the responsibility also fell on Kurdish politicians and not only “enemies of the Kurdish people” for the situation.

“I call especially on the children of the Kurdish people who are with the AKP to abandon the party of oppression and join this alliance,” he said in his letter shared by the HDP.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany