Turkey has removed 146 mayors from Kurdish parties in 4 years, HDP report says

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The Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on Tuesday published an 84-page report on the removal of HDP mayors in the last four years, after the passage of a law that authorized the Turkish Interior Ministry to remove elected local officials.

The report indicated that in this period 146 mayors from the HDP and other regional Kurdish parties were removed by the ministry.

Fifty-one of them were elected in the local polls of March 2019 and the remainder in 2015.

Kurdish parties won 102 mayoral offices in 2015 and 63 in last year’s elections.

Ahmet Türk, a 78-year-old Kurdish politician, was removed from office in southeastern Mardin province in 2016, and although he was reelected in 2019, he was again suspended by the ministry five months later.

The legislation authorizing the ministry to remove elected officials was among numerous government decrees issued under a two-year-long state of emergency declared after a 2016 coup attempt.

The HDP report also focuses on assimilation politics — attempts to erase the Kurdish identity of the predominantly Kurdish southeastern provinces.

The party’s mayors often introduced multilingual signboards and led initiatives to promote Kurdish language and culture in the region.

However, trustees appointed by the ministry after the suspension of the mayors removed the signs and halted those activities, as well as hanging the Turkish flag on all municipal buildings.

The trustees also changed street and building names that reflected Kurdish culture.

According to the report the trustees were also engaged in large-scale corruption and nepotism.

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