Turkish prosecutors level new terrorism-related charges against jailed Diyarbakır mayor

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Diyarbakır. PHOTO: Kurdistan24

Ankara prosecutors have drafted an indictment for Selçuk Mızraklı, the former mayor of the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakır, for allegedly disseminating terrorist propaganda, the Bianet news website reported on Thursday.

Mızraklı had already been sentenced to nine years, four months in prison in March for alleged membership in the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), based on an informant’s testimony as well as his attendance at events and demonstrations.

Similarly, the new indictment referred to six events he attended as evidence for charging him with disseminating terrorist propaganda.

His participation in meetings held by his party, the Kurdish-oriented Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), an HDP-organized conference on the crises in the Middle East and his support for a hunger strike by HDP deputy Leyla Güven as well as his tweets about Ramin Hossein Penahi, a Kurdish activist executed in Iran, were cited in the indictment.

In an initial statement taken at the Kayseri prison where he is incarcerated, Mızraklı said he should not be tried for terrorist propaganda as he is already behind bars due to similar charges and that the charges in the indictment were also included in the case file that led to his imprisonment.

He said the prosecution of people based on political party activities is another way of shutting down parties and that his remarks should be considered within the scope of free speech.

Elected mayor from the HDP, Mızraklı was removed from office by the Interior Ministry on Aug. 19 of last year and was subsequently arrested on Oct. 22.

The PKK has been leading an armed insurgency against Turkey’s security forces since the ’80s in a campaign that has claimed the lives of some 40,000 people. The group is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the US.

Since the breakdown of peace talks between the Turkish government and the PKK in 2015, the HDP has come under increasing pressure as government officials and the pro-government media frequently accuse it of being aligned with the PKK.

The Interior Ministry has removed more than 10 Kurdish mayors since the local elections last year, citing alleged links to terrorism. The controversial practice was also widely implemented during Turkey’s two-year-long state of emergency following an attempted coup in 2016, with the removal of scores of Kurdish mayors, many of whom also stood trial on terrorism-related charges after their ousting.

Mızraklı is best known for a video he shot after taking office in Diyarbakır last year, revealing lavish spending by the government-appointed trustee he replaced on the office furniture and interior design.

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