One hundred eighty-four intellectuals have released a joint statement denouncing the recent removal of three Kurdish mayors from office by the Turkish government, the Artı Gerçek news website reported.
In a controversial move on Monday, the Interior Ministry removed the mayors of Mardin, Van and Diyarbakır in southeastern Turkey, claiming they had links to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The mayors were elected from the ranks of the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the March 31 local elections.
In a written statement the intellectuals said the removal of the mayors was not only a coup against them but also against the people who elected them and their right to elect and be elected.
“This is a new stage in [Turkey’s] descent into a full dictatorship. This is a lock placed on the tongue, will and freedom of all of us. If this lock is not unlocked altogether, it will take Turkey to a dead end,” said the intellectuals, adding that they do not recognize the government’s decision to remove the mayors and that they oppose tyranny.
The intellectuals called on everyone all around the world who believes in democracy, the will of the people, the right to elect and be elected, freedom of expression and law to raise their voice against what has been done to the three mayors.
The signatories of the statement include Can Dündar, a government-critical journalist currently living in exile; human rights activist and lawyer Eren Keskin; Professor Cengiz Aktar; Professor Baskın Oran; and Cem Özdemir, former co-chair of the Greens in Germany who has Turkish roots.