Turkish prosecutors seek up to 15 years for ousted Kurdish mayors

Turkish prosecutors have filed indictments against three Kurdish mayors who were dismissed and arrested by the authorities this year for alleged membership of a terrorist group, a charge that carries a prison sentence of between seven-and-a-half and 15 years, the Voice of America’s Turkish-language site reported.

The lawyers prosecuting the case against Selçuk Mızraklı, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) mayor of the southeastern Diyarbakır province, submitted the indictment for membership of a terrorist organisation this week and asked to combine it with another case against him for “establishing and directing a terrorist organisation.”

Mızraklı will appear in court for a hearing on Dec. 25, if the judge accepts the request to combine the cases.

Prosecutors also filed indictments alleging membership in a terrorist organisation against Rojda Nazlıer and Keziban Yılmaz, the HDP mayors of Diyarbakır’s Kocaköy and Kayapınar districts, respectively. The pair also face sentences of up to 15 years.

The three mayors were arrested on Oct. 22, after Turkish authorities accused them of being members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and dismissed them from office. Their duties have been handed to government appointees.

Mızraklı was dismissed on Aug. 19 alongside Mardin Mayor Ahmet Türk and Van Mayor Bedia Özgökçe Ertan. The government’s decision to remove the HDP mayors of predominantly Kurdish cities just months after they were voted in with large majorities sparked widespread condemnation, with the EU sending ambassadors to meet the ousted mayors.

Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has aggressively pursued HDP politicians for alleged links to the PKK, which has fought for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since 1984. Critics say the government is abusing its power to attack political rivals.