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Prosecutor seeks 30 years for Kurdish mayor removed from office by Turkish gov’t

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The Van Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has drafted an indictment that seeks up to 30 years in prison for Bedia Özgökçe Ertan, the former Kurdish mayor of Van who on Aug. 19 was removed from office by the Turkish Interior Ministry, the Artı Gerçek news website reported on Thursday.

Ertan was elected mayor of Van in the March 31 local polls.

Ertan is charged in the indictment with membership in a terrorist group and spreading terrorist propaganda as well as praising crime and criminals based on her remarks and flyers distributed during her time as mayor of Van. Her trial will begin on Dec. 25.

The Turkish government has recently been cracking down on the Kurdish political movement and its most prominent representative, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) especially since a failed coup in 2016.

During a two-year-long state of emergency that followed the attempted coup, dozens of HDP mayors were replaced by trustees appointed by the interior ministry. Many of them later stood trial on terrorism-related charges as the government often accuses the HDP of being aligned with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The practice continued after this year’s local elections, as hinted by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the campaign trail. The newly elected mayors of three major Kurdish cities and one district have been removed thus far.

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