Turkish gov’t continues wave of mayor dismissals in Kurdish-populated provinces

Mayor of Saray district in Turkey’s eastern province of Van on Saturday became the 14th mayor of the predominantly-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) to be replaced by government-appointed mayors since the March local elections, left-wing Birgün daily reported.

The district governor of Saray said in a statement early Saturday that the mayor Caziye Duman had been sacked and replaced with the district governor himself.

The statement said Duman’s trial in a criminal court over terror-related charges had been continuing.

The Turkish government accuses the HDP of harbouring sympathies for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an armed group which has been fighting inside Turkey for Kurdish self-rule since 1984.

The Turkish government had previously removed from office more than 90 of the 103 HDP mayors who had been elected in 2014, replacing them with government-appointed officials after a failed coup attempt in 2016.

Following local polls on March 31, the government in August removed from office HDP mayors in three key provinces in the country's mainly Kurdish southeast, Diyarbakır, Mardin and Van.

The dismissed co-mayor of Turkey’s southeastern province of Diyarbakır, Selçuk Mızraklı, was formally arrested last month and charged with membership in a terrorist organisation.

The government also dismissed mayors in eastern province Erzuurm’s Karızyazı district and Diyarbakır’s Kulp district in September.

The wave of removals continued in October, following the start of Turkey’s military operation in Kurdish-controlled territories in northern Syria.

The mayors of southeastern province of Hakkari, Van’s Yüksekova district and southeastern province of Mardin’s Nusaybin district were removed from office on Oct. 18. 

The government last week replaced the mayors of four districts in Diyarbakır, as well as the mayor of Van’s Erciş district.

The HDP mayor in Cizre district of the southeastern province of Şırnak was dismissed on Tuesday.