More than 100 municipalities probed, ten mayors jailed in Turkey’s southeast
Fevzi Kızılkoyun - ANKARA
DHA photoTen mayors from the Democratic Regions Party (DBP), the sister party of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), have been suspended and detained, while 106 municipalities under the DBP have been subject to investigations on charges related to “autonomy,” “co-leadership” and “terror.”
Eight mayors have been separately suspended, while one mayor was released on probation and another has remained under house arrest.
Mayors have been detained on charges of “disrupting the unity and territorial integrity of the state,” “membership to a terrorist organization and making terrorist propaganda,” “acting as a human shield” and “providing logistical support to a terrorist organization.”
Violence between Turkish security forces and militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) reignited in the summer of 2015, shattering a fragile peace process, dubbed a “resolution process” by governmental officials, after a two-and-a-half-year de facto period of non-conflict.
With the restart of conflict, investigations against 106 municipalities held by the DBP have been launched by civil inspectors from the Interior Ministry and controllers from Interior Ministry’s Directorate General of Local Administrations as well as by prosecutors. All of these investigations still underway, with three cases investigating 11 provincial municipalities, including metropolitan municipalities in Diyarbakır, Mardin and Van, 68 investigating district municipalities and 27 investigating town municipalities. In addition to charges leading to the detainment of ten mayors, investigations also include charges such as “cemeteries allocated to PKK” members, “aiding and abetting a terrorist organizations” and “corruption.”
Hakkari Mayor Dilek Hatipoğlu and Mayor Seyit Narin of Diyarbakır’s Sur district, which has been under a round-the-clock curfew since Dec. 2 as the army tries to push out PKK militants who have dug trenches and built barricades there and in other residential areas in the region, are among those ten mayors who have been both suspended and detained.
Batman Mayor Sabri Özdemir and Cizre Mayor Leyla İmret are among those eight mayors who have been suspended. Mayor Abdulsamet Bilgin of Diyarbakır’s Dicle district has been released on probation, while Mayor Hüseyin Kılıç of Eruh district in Siirt has been under house arrest.
In addition to those 10 mayors, 11 “co-mayors” and 44 members of municipal councils in the region have also been detained and sent to prison.
The co-mayoral system de facto implemented by the DBP, which features a woman and a man holding a mayor post together, is particularly subject to many of the current investigations, with officials saying that the system constitutes “a crime” and is “not legal.”
The HDP and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), one of the HDP’s forerunners, have also implemented co-leaderships in their parties. In the March 2014 local elections, they have extended the co-chair system to all levels of local administration.