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01 November 2016 HIC Condemns the Detention of the Mayors of Diyarbakir

Call for the Restitution and Respect of Human Rights and Democracy in Turkey

The Habitat International Coalition calls for the release of the Co-Mayors of Diyarbakir, Gultan Kisanak and Ferat Anli, and of all detained and prosecuted public and civil agents, and demands the Turkish authorities to respect, protect and fulfill Human Rights and restitute democracy in Turkey.

Since 2015, a total of 74 mayors of the Kurdish region of South-East Turkey have been arrested, 15 of them after the declaration of the State of Emergency at the end of July 2016; a total of 33 mayors are still arrested and46 have been dismissed of their office and replaced by the Turkish government without the involvement of democratically elected local councils or new local elections.

Mrs. Gultan Kisanak, from the third largest party in the Turkish parliament, the Peoples` Democratic Party (HDP), is the first female Mayor of Diyarbakir metropolitan city, which is considered the Kurdish cultural capital in South-eastern Turkey. Mrs. Kisanakwas arrested last October 25th, allegedly charged for terrorist membership and propaganda, after participating to the 5th United Cities and Local Governments World Congress (Bogotá, 12-15 October) and the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, Habitat III (Quito, 17-20 October). During both events, the Mayor had the opportunity to expose the alarming situation of Diyarbakir Metropolitan City and South-East Region after the Turkish military operations following the cease-fire between Turkish government and the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) broke in July 2015. Concerning the historical center of the metropolitan city of Diyarbakir alone, the armed conflict displaced more than 23,000 inhabitants and27,000 residentsrisk forced evictions by means of a ministerial decree, while demolitions of heritage buildings and confinement of certain areas are still on-going. During both international events, Mrs. Kisanak denounced the practices from the Turkish government contravening International Human Rights law’s principles and practices in Diyarbakir and other cities in the region.

The Turkish authorities arrested the Mayors of Diyarbakir a few days after Turkey adopted a UN Conference’s Agenda that advocates for political decentralization and establishes respect of culture, diversity and equality as key elements in the humanization of human settlements. The UN High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR`s Statement), the Council of Europe (CoE`s Statement), the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG`s Statement) and numerous international and regional entities have expressed their concern regarding Gultan Kisanak and Firat Anli’s arrest and the urgent call for the prevalence of local democracy in Turkey. Moreover, the CoE’s Human Rights Commissioner issued a memorandum callingthe Turkish authorities to protect democracy, human rights and the rule of law, including the use of due process and a reasoned, rational approach.

The Habitat International Coalition joins these concerns and expresses its solidarity and support to the detained and prosecuted mayors, public servants and political and civil entities that struggle for peace, democracy and human rights; reminds the Turkish authorities of its Human Rights obligations and commitments, among them the Istanbul Declaration and the Habitat Agenda (Habitat II, 1996) that recognizes local authorities as national government’s closest partners; and, calls Turkish authorities to put and immediate end to the excesses of the State of Emergency and Human Rights violations.

For more information:

Habitat International Coalition–Housing and Land Rights Network: Forced Eviction and Urban Transformation as Tools of War: The case of Diyarbakir, Turkey

Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality: Report on Detainment of Gultan Kisanak and Firat Anli, Co-Mayors of Diyarbakir

Union of Southeastern Anatolia Region Municipalities: Report on Local Governments and Appointment of Trustees to Municipalities

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