Diyarbakır, Turkey—The two co-mayors of Diyarbakir, a Kurdish-majority city in southeast Turkey, have been arrested as part of a terrorism enquiry, security officials reported to the press on Tuesday, 26 October 2016. The two are accused of making speeches in support of the PKK and of greater political autonomy for Turkey`s estimated 16 million Kurds, and of using municipal vehicles to transport the bodies of dead militants and of inciting violent protests, according to a statement by the prosecutor.
A heavy police presence around the town hall following the arrests of Gültan Kişanak and Firat Anlı, who together lead Diyarbakır, the capital of southeastern Turkey. The city is under military operation since the breakdown of the cease-fire between Turkish security forces and members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers` Party (PKK).
Returning from the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) Congress in Bogotá, Colombia and Habitat III, Quito, Ecuador, Gultan Kişanak was held at the local airport. Turkish security forces arrested Firat Anli at his home in the southeastern city.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has vowed to prosecute local officials accused of links to the banned Kurdistan Workers` Party (PKK).
This latest move follows the purging of 28 elected mayors in largely Kurdish towns, sacked on 28 September 2016. Turkish executive authorities replaced the elected mayors with appointed “trustees,” applying an emergency law that came into force following a failed army-led coup in July.
The mayors targeted are mostly members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples` Democratic Party (HDP), which has condemned the September sackings as a coup by trustees.
The PKK was formed in the late 1970s and launched an armed struggle against the Turkish government in 1984, calling for an independent Kurdish state within Turkey. Since then, more than 40,000 people have died. In the 1990s, PKK rescinded its demand for an independent Kurdish state, calling instead for more autonomy for the Kurdish citizens of Turkey.
Authorities were reportedly also searching the mayors’ office, security sources said. An aide to Kişanak said the mayor`s home was being searched by police, but did not provide further details. Police formed a security cordon around city hall in case the latest detentions stirred unrest, witnesses said.
Ms. Kişanak, 55, is a well-known Kurdish political figure and became Diyarbakir`s first female mayor in 2014. Earlier on Tuesday, she testified upon the invitation of lawmakers at a parliamentary commission in Ankara inquiring into an ostensible military coup that failed on 15 July.
Photo: Diyarbakır Co-mayors Gültan Kirşanak (left) and Firat Anlı (right). Source: BComú Global.
Download HIC-HLRN’s report on the situation in Diyarbakır: Forced Eviction and Urban Transformation as Tools of War: the Case of Diyarbakır, Turkey