Four mayor co-chairs detained over autonomy statements in Turkey’s southeast

Four mayor co-chairs detained over autonomy statements in Turkey’s southeast

DİYARBAKIR – Doğan News Agency
Four mayor co-chairs detained over autonomy statements in Turkey’s southeast

CİHAN photo

Four mayoral co-chairs from the Democratic Regions’ Party (DBP) were detained Aug. 19 in two districts of Diyarbakır over recent statements declaring autonomy from Ankara.

Security forces conducted simultaneous operations early on Aug. 19 over the declarations in Diyarbakır and detained the co-chairs of Sur Municipality, Seyid Narin and Fatma Şık Barut, along with the co-chairs of Silvan Municipality, Yüksel Bodakçı and Melikşah Teke, from the DBP.

The recent prevalence of autonomy statements from DBP officials in southeastern provinces first began on Aug. 10 in Şırnak when DBP provincial head Salih Gülenç vowed to “build their lives on the basis of democracy” on the grounds that the state had lost its legitimacy. 

One day later, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan slammed the statements, saying they would pay heavy price for their statements.

An operation then began on Aug. 12 following Erdoğan’s remarks which targeted DBP provincial head, the mayor and the party managers. Three were detained in police raids and two managers of the DBP, Salih Ürek and Leyla İşlek, were arrested.

The second statement, meanwhile, came from Hakkari on the same day as the operations. DBP Hakkari central district co-chair İbrahim Çiftçi declared the area’s autonomy, saying, “No one assigned by the state will govern us.”

On Aug. 15 the autonomy statements came from the Silvan district of Diyarbakır and the southeastern province of Batman. 

“As the people of Farqîn [Silvan], we do not want to be ruled in this fashion,” said Silvan DBP district head Barış Gülenyüzlü, adding that the residents would no longer accept the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) heavy-handed administration that operates on the notion that “everybody must follow my orders and move according to my desires.”

On the same day, Batman Municipality co-chairs Sabri Özdemir and Gülistan Akel made another autonomy statement.

The Hakkari Public Prosecutor’s Office launched Aug. 17 an investigation over the consecutive statements.

Accordingly, special operations police and counter-terrorism forces began simultaneous operations targeting DBP and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) figures in a number of districts and provinces.

The Istanbul neighborhood of Gazi, which has long been a flashpoint between locals and the state, also declared autonomy on Aug. 18.

The DBP is a sister party to the HDP and operates mostly in Turkey’s east and southeast.