Turkish police detain co-mayors of Diyarbakır

Turkish police detain co-mayors of Diyarbakır

Turkish police detain co-mayors of Diyarbakır

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The co-mayors of the southeastern province of Diyarbakır were detained late on Oct. 25 on “terrorism” charges.

Gültan Kışanak, a former member of parliament before her election as mayor in Diyarbakır, and Fırat Anlı, her co-mayor and a member of the municipal council, were taken into custody as part of an investigation into their alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Diyarbakır Prosecutor’s Office said in a written statement. 

The two are accused of making speeches in support of the PKK, allowing PKK militants use municipal resources, inciting violent protests, and of attending illegal meetings and rallies, the prosecutor’s statement said.

Tension rose between the HDP and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies yesterday in the parliamentary commission that is examining the coup. 

“You made the police detain Kışanak, who spoke here yesterday,” HDP MP Meral Danış Beştaş said.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, and EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn described the detentions as “worrying.”

“It is always essential that all steps are taken in full respect of the rule of law, due process and fundamental freedoms – all commitments Turkey has made as a candidate country [seeking EU membership],” they said.

Speaking outside the municipal hall, Democratic Regions Party (DBP) Co-Chair Sebahat Tuncel said that “they are chosen by the people.”

After the detention of the co-mayors, the HDP and the DBP called on people to take to the streets in Diyarbakır and Istanbul, with the HDP describing the move against the mayors as “extremely unlawful and arbitrary.”

In a statement, the party said the authorities’ actions showed a hostile attitude toward the political will of the people. The HDP also called on the international community not to remain silent to the “groundless accusations.”

Police in Diyarbakır dispersed a crowd of 300 people and detained more than two dozen protesters outside City Hall. A few hours later, a crowd of about 1,000 people, including parliamentarians, regrouped. Police again dispersed the protesters, using tear gas and water cannon.

Meanwhile, the co-mayors were banned from seeing their lawyers for five days, a practice imposed as a part of the state of emergency declared in the wake of the July 15 coup.

Later in the day, Beştaş protested the detentions in the parliament, putting handcuffs on the seat of Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım. She then brought them to the rostrum. 

Meanwhile, main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Istanbul lawmaker Barış Yarkadaş commented on the detention of co-mayors, saying “it is crushing the national will.”

“They attempt to usurp the municipalities that they didn’t win in elections by detentions and appointing trustees,” Yarkadaş told news portal gazeteduvar.com.

The Council of Europe also reacted to the detentions in a statement.

“It is a matter of particular concern to the Council of Europe when democratically elected representatives are deprived of their liberty. We will ask the authorities in our member state Turkey to provide us with the necessary explanations,” the statement read.