The chief public prosecutor’s office of the eastern city of Kars has ordered the detention of 19 politicians from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on terror charges, including the city’s co-mayor and city council members, the Gazete Duvar news website reported on Thursday.
The police had detained Co-mayor Şevin Alaca as of Thursday morning, HDP deputy Hüda Kaya tweeted.
The detention warrants were issued following a written statement by Ayhan Bilgen, the other Kars co-mayor from the HDP who is currently in police custody, in which he said he would resign from office after his detention, stating that a female mayor would better govern the city.
Critics view the detention of Alaca and city council members as a bid to suppress an attempt by the HDP to choose Alaca as the new mayor after Bilgen announced he would resign, a move that would prompt an election by the city council.
Bilgen and 81 other pro-Kurdish politicians were detained on Friday at the order of the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office over their alleged role in protests in Kurdish majority cities against what is seen by many as the Turkish government’s tacit approval of the Kobane siege in 2014, when Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants laid a prolonged siege to a Kurdish town in northern Syria.
Ankara has removed from office 45 of 53 mayors from the HDP, replacing them with government-appointed trustees, over accusations of ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a secessionist Kurdish armed group outlawed by Turkey.
The ousted mayors were elected in the local elections of March 2019, when the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) suffered a significant blow by losing the mayoralties of three major cities — İstanbul, Ankara and İzmir — to opposition candidates.
Kars is the only major city still run by mayors elected from the HDP.