Gov’t-backed Van mayor removes Kurdish signs from public buses

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Bekir Kaya (2R), co-mayor of Van, arrives to municipalty headquarters on November 17, 2016 in Van, eastern Turkey, before being arrested. Turkish police on November 17 detained the pro-Kurdish co-mayor of the southeastern city of Van in the latest raids targeting municipal chiefs, expanding a widespread crackdown that has sparked international concern. STR / AFP

The new mayor of Van province, who was recently appointed by the Turkish government in place of the democratically elected pro-Kurdish mayor, has reportedly removed all the Kurdish signs and words from public buses operating within the province.

Turkey’s Interior Ministry appointed trustees to the Van, Mardin and Siirt municipalities in Turkey’s eastern and southeastern regions, replacing democratically elected pro-Kurdish mayors with government-appointed figures.

In a statement on the morning of Nov. 17, the Interior Ministry announced that Mardin Mayor Ahmet Türk, Van Mayor Bekir Kaya, who was detained in the early hours of the same day, and Siirt Mayor Tuncer Bakırhan, who was arrested on Nov. 16, have been removed from their posts.

Van Governor İbrahim Taşyapan has been appointed deputy mayor of Van and Mardin Governor Mustafa Yaman has been named deputy mayor of Mardin, while Siirt Deputy Governor Ceyhun Taşkın will now serve as Siirt deputy mayor.

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