EU warns Turkey over dismissed Kurdish mayors

The bloc has also opposed the detainment of hundreds of people in the south-east parts of the country

Photo: Reuters Turkish police walk in front of the Metropolitan Municipality headquarters in Diyarbakir, Turkey.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the European Union expressed its concerns about the Turkish government’s decision to replace the newly elected mayors of Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van, three key provinces in the country’s predominantly Kurdish southeast. Hundreds of people have also been detained as part of a major terrorism-related investigation.

“The replacement of Selcuk Mızraklı, Bedia Ozgokce Ertan and Ahmet Turk by state governors is of serious concern as it puts the respect of the democratic outcomes of the 31 March elections into question. Dismissals and detentions of local politicians and appointment of trustees deprive voters of political representation at local level, and seriously risk damaging local democracy.”, the Union's spokesperson warned.

"Turkey has to repeal measures inhibiting the functioning of local democracy, in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission and with Turkey's commitment to the European Charter of Local Self-Government." the statement also reads.

As Europost reminds, on 18 August Turkey removed three elected mayors from office and detained more than 400 people as part of a crackdown over alleged links to Kurdish militants. The mayors, who were democratically elected in March, are accused of spreading "terrorist propaganda" and "financing terrorism". Ankara insisted that they - and the many others detained - have ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

"Through judicial and administrative investigations, our ministry suspended mayors who were identified and proven to be engaged and affiliated with terrorist organisations," country's interior ministry said in a statement.

The move comes after Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan warned before the March elections that mayors from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party could be dismissed for alleged ties to militants.

The Kurdish PKK has waged an insurgency in Turkey for more than three decades, costing more than 40,000 lives. The group is blacklisted as a terror organisation by Ankara and its Western allies, and there have been several military operations against them since 2015.

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