Turkish police detain 2 Kurdish co-mayors in southeastern Turkey

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A girl flashes the victory sign as holding a flag bearing the logo of Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) as Turkish Kurds gather during Newroz celebrations for the new year in Diyarbakir, southeastern Turkey, on March 21, 2018. Newroz (also known as Nawroz or Nowruz) is an ancient Persian festival, which is also celebrated by Kurdish people, marking the first day of spring, which falls on March 21. / AFP PHOTO / ILYAS AKENGIN

As part of an expanding crackdown on elected mayors from the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), two HDP district co-mayors who were recently removed from their posts in the Kızıltepe district of southeastern Mardin province have been arrested, Turkish media reports said on Thursday.

Kızıltepe co-mayors Nilüfer Elik Yılmaz and Dilber Sulhan were detained following police raids on their residences on Thursday morning on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.

Since the local elections of March 31, more than 20 HDP mayors have been ousted from office and subsequently arrested.

Ankara accuses the HDP of links to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

In August Turkey first removed the mayors of Diyarbakır, Mardin and Van, three metropolitan cities won by the HDP.

The controversial practice of removing and arresting mayors was also widely implemented during Turkey’s two-year-long state of emergency following an attempted coup in 2016.

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