Turkey appoints trustees to four municipalities

Turkey appoints trustees to four municipalities

Turkey appoints trustees to four municipalities

DHA photo

Turkey has appointed mayors to four municipalities in the southeastern and eastern region of the country following operations to detain and arrest the provinces’ democratically elected leaders.

Trustees were appointed to the municipalities of the eastern provinces of Van, Siirt and Tunceli and the southeastern province of Mardin early on Nov. 17. 

An operation was carried out at the Van Municipality Hall early in the day and Co-Mayor Bekir Kaya from the Democratic Regions Party (DBP) was detained as part of a probe carried out by the Van Governor’s Office. He was detained at the municipality hall, before being taken to police headquarters. Police conducted searches in the municipality offices, as well as the houses of Kaya and four other municipality officials. 

Kaya was sentenced to 15 years in jail in January on a charge of “being a member of a terrorist organization,” but was appealing the verdict. 

The interior ministry appointed Van Gov. İbrahim Taşyapan to run the municipality in place of Kaya, who is from the sister party of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), parliament’s second biggest opposition party, after detaining him and four others. 

Heavy security measures were taken around the municipality building during the police operation. 

Municipal workers subsequently gathered in front of the building, chanting, “The oppression will not deter us,”
but they were subsequently dispersed after government forces attacked with tear gas and water cannon. 
Mardin Gov. Mustafa Yaman was appointed as Mardin co-mayor in place of Ahmet Türk from the DBP. 

A probe was launched into Türk on charges of “being a member of an armed terrorist organization and sending money to it,” “humiliating the Turkish nation, republic, parliament and people overtly” and “damaging the state’s unity.” 

Siirt Deputy Gov. Ceyhun Taşkın was appointed as Siirt mayor, after Co-Mayor Tuncer Bakırhan was arrested. 
“Mardin Mayor Ahmet Türk and arrested Siirt Mayor Tuncer Bakırhan have been dismissed with a ministry decision,” read the statement released from the Interior Ministry.

Bakırhan was arrested on charges of being a member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and participating in illegal rallies to conduct propaganda on behalf of the party. He was detained on Nov. 16.
Police took strict security measures in front of the municipality building in Mardin after Türk was removed from duty. Protests took place in front of the building, which were met with police intervention. Two people were detained. 

Interior Ministry also removed Tunceli Co-Mayor Mehmet Ali Bul from duty and appointed Tunceli Deputy Gov. Olgun Öner in his place. 

The appointment of mayors comes as 10 MPs from the HDP, including its co-leaders, Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, are being held captive in jail on charges of links to the PKK. 

In late October, Diyarbakır Co-Mayors Gültan Kışanak and Fırat Anlı, both from the DBP, were arrested as part of an investigation into alleged terrorism.

Separately, the co-chair of DBP, Kamuran Yüksek, was detained in the İdil district of the southeastern province of Şırnak. He was taken to a hospital for health checks, before being taken to police headquarters. 

He was reportedly detained for not giving testimony in a probe launched against him.