Neighborhood head who did not attend Erdoğan rally removed from post

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ISTANBUL, TURKEY - MARCH 19: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

A muhtar, or neighborhood administrator, was replaced by a trustee after he failed to attend a rally held by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the province of Manisa.

Turkish media outlets reported that Kamuran Kocaman, the head of the Gaffar Okkan neighborhood in Salihli, did not attend Erdoğan’s rally on Feb. 24, unlike other local administrators.

Kocaman was recalled to the office of the local governor the same day and dismissed from his office. Muhtar Kocaman said he was busy with work, which prevented him from attending Erdoğan’s rally.

In January, Hatice Bender, who did not participate in meetings held for muhtars in Erdoğan’s presidential palace, was arrested for insulting statesmen on her social media account.

“A new article has been invented that does not exist in the TCK [Turkish Penal Code]. Citizens are being arrested under this invented article,” said Barış Yarkadaş, a Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy, reacting to the court decision in a Twitter message.

“She was clear about her choice. They want her to pay a price. If Hatice Bender had gone to the palace and praised [Erdoğan] she would not be under arrest, and the opportunities of the state and municipalities would be in her service instead. She was sent to prison because she did not obey the authority.”

In a similar development in early January, Gökhan Bahadır, a muhtar in the Vakfıkebir district of Trabzon province, faced an investigation because he refused to attend the regular meetings President Erdoğan holds at his presidential palace with muhtars.

Çay neighborhood muhtar Bahadır came to public attention with his statements in July. Back then, he said he would not attend muhtar meetings at Erdoğan’s palace because it would violate his impartiality as a muhtar since Erdoğan is acting like a president from a political party.

Erdoğan is required by the Turkish Constitution to act impartially; however, he has been behaving like the Justice and Development Party (AKP) chairman since his election to the top state post in August 2014.

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