Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu stated in Ankara on Friday that 28 municipalities in the country’s eastern provinces that have links with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) will be terrorist-free municipalities within 15 days.
Speaking at a police academy ceremony in the capital of Ankara, Soylu said those 28 municipalities will come under new leadership within two weeks, indicating the appointment of trustees by the courts, a measure that was previously used by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in order to seize companies owned by dissidents.
Soylu’s remarks came a day after the Diyarbakır Governor’s Office denied media reports early on Thursday suggesting that it had appointed trustees to the municipalities of Sur and Silvan, which are run by the pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP).
Co-mayors of Sur and DBP members Seyid Narin and Fatma Şık Barut, and Co-mayor of Silvan Yüksek Bodakçı were arrested on Aug. 23 on charges of issuing a declaration of “self-governance.”
“With the mandate given us by state decrees, the administration of 28 municipalities will not continue with terrorists, [or] instruction from Qandil [a mountain range in northern Iraq that is home to PKK headquarters], but with nationals who embrace this [Turkish] flag with its crescent and star,” said Soylu. He did not name the 28 municipalities in his address.
Soylu also said this decree will not only cover PKK-affiliated municipalities but also those of FETÖ, an acronym for the Fetullahist Terrorist Organization, a term used by the AKP government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to refer to sympathizers of the Gülen movement, which is inspired by the views of US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. Despite Gülen’s strong denial and without any concrete evidence, the AKP and Erdoğan accuse Gülen of masterminding a failed July 15 coup attempt.
Murat Karayılan, leader of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) – an umbrella organization that includes the terrorist PKK — said in a statement in June that they will directly attack the trustees that the government is planning to appoint to pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) mayors’ offices.
“If they [the government] take over [HDP mayors’ offices], we will target whoever is appointed to replace the mayor. I am saying this openly. They want to expand the war, and they are imposing this on us. Of course, we will respond accordingly,” Karayılan said.