The Turkish government has arrested a total of 84 co-mayors from the pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP) in the past couple of months while seizing the administration of 54 municipalities across southern Turkey.
The pro-Kurdish DBP won 103 municipalities in local elections held on March 30, 2014, with some repeated on June 1, 2014. However, with Turkey stepping up political pressure on Kurdish politicians in recent months, the government has appointed trustees to the management of 54 municipalities and arrested a total of 84 co-mayors and 13 deputies from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
The 84 co-mayors were jailed in 15 provinces: Van (9), Hakkari (8), Ağrı (5), Iğdır (2), Erzurum (3), Muş (5), Bitlis (10), Siirt (6), Şırnak (11), Mardin (8), Diyarbakır (8), Elazığ (2), Tunceli (2), Urfa (4) and Mersin (1).
In one of the most recent examples, on Dec. 3, Turkish police detained the co-mayors of three districts of Turkey’s southeastern province of Hakkari as part of counterterrorism operations, officials announced.
With the detention of the mayors, there were no democratically elected administrators left in the province as three Kurdish deputies from the HDP had already been in prison for weeks.
The Turkish government claims that the growing number of arrests of Kurdish politicians at the national and local levels is part of the fight against terrorism.
On Nov. 4, Turkish courts arrested nine HDP deputies including the party’s co-chairs, who were detained in the early hours of the same day following police raids on their homes.
HDP Co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ and deputies İdris Baluken, Leyla Birlik, Nursel Aydoğan, Selma Irmak, Ferhat Encü and Gülser Yıldırım were arrested on Nov. 4.
The other jailed HDP deputies are as follows: Ayhan Bilgen, Nihat Akdoğan, Meral Danış Beştaş, Çağlar Demirel, Abdullah Zeydan and Besim Konca.