Controversial mayor of Sur heads to Iraqi town Dohuk

Controversial mayor of Sur heads to Iraqi town Dohuk

Emine Kart ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
A Diyarbakır-area mayor who has been the subject of investigations after signing a sister-city protocol with Ramallah is now planning to head to another sister city, Dohuk in northern Iraq, for the town’s Diyarbakır Days festival.

Abdullah Demirbaş, the mayor of the southeastern province’s Sur Municipality, is to depart for Dohuk today take part in the festival, which kicked off yesterday and will continue until Aug. 31. The festival focuses on Kurdish language and literature, but also aims to develop commercial, economic and social relations between Sur and Dohuk. The two have been sister cities since September 2009.

Demirbaş’s trip follows an investigation opened against him by Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin regarding the sister city protocol signed between Sur and Ramallah Municipality in Palestine.

Demirbaş is also considering a similar joint agreement with Armenia’s Gyumri Municipality, as well.
In March of this year, Sur, Ramallah and the northwestern province of Çanakkale signed a “sister municipality” protocol.

Last month, Şahin opened an investigation against Demirbaş concerning the protocol he had signed with Ramallah, arguing that it was in violation of the official foreign policy.Demirbaş is currently facing 486 years in prison, mostly on charges stemming from his municipality’s efforts to introduce multilingual services. “There is no legal provision for a municipality to work and take responsibility on these kinds of issues. And it cannot be said that the same or any other commitments are in agreement with the international policy of the Republic of Turkey,” Şahin said in his decision to investigate.