The heads of three neighborhoods (mukhtar) in the Bismil district of Diyarbakır province were replaced by trustees appointed by the district governor’s office on Friday.
According to the Cumhuriyet daily, Altıok neighborhood head Mürsel Zorooğlu, Sanayi neighborhood head Mehmet Bayındır and Esentepe neighborhood head Alaattin Tekin were removed from office for their social media posts allegedly propagating the views of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Esentepe neighborhood head Tekin claimed that he was removed from office for sharing a photo three years ago in which his late mother was seen with a tricolor scarf in yellow, green and red, which represent the colors of the so-called PKK flag.
“During interrogation [at the police station], I was asked about why I shared my mother’s photo. Sharing my mother’s photo was considered a crime,” Tekin said.
Sanayi neighborhood head Bayındır said he was removed from office for sharing a photo of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş. Bayındır added he had shared Demirtaş’s photo when Demirtaş was chairman of the HDP and was a presidential candidate in 2014.
Altıok neighborhood head Zorooğlu claimed that he was removed for sharing posts on social media in 2013 that are considered to be “terror propaganda”; however, he said did not share any of those posts since he doesn’t know how to use the Internet. Zorooğlu said he has been a neighborhood head since 1993 and has never had acted contrary to any government until the recent allegations.
After Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu stated in Ankara on Sept. 10 that municipalities in the country’s eastern provinces which have links to PKK would become terrorist-free municipalities, tens of mayors and co-mayors from the pro-Kurdish HDP and Democratic Regions Party (DBP) were replaced by trustees following the detention of hundreds of local pro-Kurdish politicians.
In November, prominent pro-Kurdish politicians and deputies, including HDP co-chairs Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, were arrested as part of investigations over their links to the PKK.