Following March 31 Municipal Elections in Turkey, HDP had won with over 50% in dozens of cities where elected mayors had been previously replaced by appointed trustees. Following the elections, several elected mayors had been denied their mandate to become the mayor officially due to having been dismissed from public offices. Of the remaining mayors that assumed the municipal charge, 3 metropolitan co-mayors have been dismissed this morning and police operations targeted hundreds of HDP members.
Ministry of Interior announced HDP metropolitan co-mayors for Diyarbakır, Mardin and Van have been dismissed from their positions. Appointed governors of the cities have been appointed as interim mayors, replacing democratically elected public officials. Following appointment of interim mayors, the concrete blocks around metropolitan municipalities that were lifted following March 31 elections, have been put back in place. Websites of Diyarbakır, Van and Mardin metropolitan municipalities have been taken down after elected mayors were dismissed and replaced by appointed trustees. Following dismissal of HDP co-mayor, 29 municipal officers and 8 municipal workers have also been dismissed at Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality.
HDP co-chair Sezai Temelli, “our friends have committed absolutely no crimes, just like to 5.000 fellows that are in prison at the moment. They have just been dismissed with made-up excuses.” Temelli, “the government is openly declaring ‘we are unable to govern without appointing trustees’. As they lose their legitimacy further, they are forcing violence, pressure, appointment of trustees on the peoples of Turkey.”
Appointed trustee mayor of Van Metropolitan Municipality, governor Mehmet Emin Bilmez, “we will initiate transparent governance and open the resources for shared services; we will embrace all.” Bilmez’sfirst act as the mayor has been to take down the portrait of the founder of the republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and replacing it with a portrait of AKP chair & President Erdoğan in his office. Appointed trustee mayor of Diyarbakır, Governor Hasan Basri Güzeloğlu said “we will embrace everyone unlike those who take down President Erdoğan’s portraits.” Appointed trustee mayor of Mardin, Governor Mustafa Yaman shared a photo of his taken with AKP chair & President Erdoğan, “we are on duty for our Mardin once again; we are working for you”.
Mardin Governorship declared one month ban on all protests, press manifestations, rallies and sit-ins following appointment of the governor as metropolitan mayor trustee. 10 days of protest ban has been declared in Izmir, following dismissal of elected HDP mayors in Diyarbakır, Van and Mardin; press statements and manifestations have not been permitted in Izmir either. Izmir Labour & Democracy Forces attempted to hold a press manifestation which was later moved to DISK union offices due to protest ban in the city. Tension was observed between protestors and police.
GOVERNMENT’S SUPPORT FOR APPOINTED OFFICIALS
AKP group deputy chair Bülent Turan, “if there is going to be any criticism regarding appointment of trustees, it is ‘why has it been so delayed?’ this is the question that should be asked.” Government ally MHP leader Bahçeli called Minister of Interior soylu to declare his support for dismissal of elected mayors in Diyarbakır, Van and Mardin, and appointment of trustees. Fatherland Party VP leader Doğu Perinçek announced support for Ministry of Interior’s dismissal of elected HDP mayors in Diyarbakır, Van and Mardin, “allowing HDP to govern municipalities is bullets against our soldiers; HDP must be shut down.”
CALLS FOR PROTEST AGAINST DISMISSAL OF ELECTED OFFICIALS
Dismissed HDP Diyarbakır Metropolitan Co-Mayor Dr. Selçuk Mızraklı called on everyone to reclaim the people’s will, “over the last 5 months we have tried to establish a system to expand justice, in the meantime we have paid back the debts left over by the appointed trustees in the last years. We have attempted to reach all parts of the society regardless of party leaning. This week we were going to give a preliminary report of what we have achieved and what we were going to do. Almost having heard of our report, this has happened now. No one can feel safe and secure under the protection of justice & laws any longer after this.” Dismissed HDP Diyarbakır Metropolitan Co-Mayor Dr. Mızraklı refused to sign the order of dismissal, “I was granted the mandate by the people and consider it dishonor to sign this document.”
CRITICISM & CONDEMNATION
Azadi Movement, Human & Liberty Party, Kurdish Democrats Platform, Kurdistan Communist Party, Revolutionary Democrats, Kurdistan Democratic Party have held a joint press conference to condemn dismissal of elected HDP mayors in three metropolises. Elected Diyarbakır Metropolitan Co-Mayor Dr. Selçuk Mızraklı initially said “the people’s will has been stolen; at 6 am they broke the doors and started searching. This is an unlawful application disregarding constitution and elections.” General Workers Union declared “this injustice is a coup against democracy to ignore people’s will and replace elected officials.” Turkish Medical Association “democracy lives through democratic rules & principles, not hostility. No one has right to have oversight on democratic will of the people in our country and to destroy basic democratic processes.” Union of Political Science Graduates declared, “appointment of trustees instead of elected officials would mean destruction of democratic order in Turkey.” Van Metropolitan Co-Mayor Bedia Özgökçe Ertan said “Turkey cannot be governed through coups” while co-mayor Mustafa Avcı said “this Alliance of Fascism is attempting to enlighten its life through pressure and torture.”
Twice dismissed Mardin Metropolitan Co-Mayor Ahmet Türk, “they ignore the people’s will and call it democracy. What is going on cannot be explained in any other word than unlawfulness.”
Hundreds of HDP officials, members, municipal councillors have also been subjected to police operations and many have been detained with house raids in 29 provinces. Ministry of Interior announced a total of 418 people have been detained in 29 provinces during police raids, primarily in Diyarbakır, Van and Mardin.
HDP spokesperson Saruhan Oluç, “they are appointing trustees to municipalities we have won from trustees on March 31, based on made-up reasons. This government has no legitimacy left. Coup follows a coup in Turkey now.” HDP deputy Garo Paylan, “all political parties and the whole society must univocally react to this vile coup against people’s will! If one remains quiet now, next turn will be Istanbul and Ankara.” HDP members attempted to protest in Istanbul against dismissal of elected mayors in Diyarbakır, Van and Mardin. Police intervened the group in Taksim Square and detained 7 including HDP Party Council member Nesimi Aday. During the police intervention against the protest against dismissal of elected mayors, HDP deputy & journalist Ahmet Şık was dragged on street by police. Police intervention targeted protests in Ankara against dismissal of elected HDP mayors in Diyarbakır, Van and Mardin. Numerous people have been detained.
During the police intervention against the protest against dismissal of elected mayors, HDP deputy & journalist Ahmet Şık was dragged on street by police. pic.twitter.com/mOfa4O2Qtb
— dokuz8NEWS (@dokuz8_EN) August 19, 2019
All three metropolitan mayors of HDP had received more than 50% of the vote on March 31 Municipal Elections:
📌Selçuk Mızraklı 62,93%
📌Bedia Özgökçe Ertan 53,83%
📌Ahmet Türk 56,24%.
HDP Central Executive Committee declared, “this dismissals are not just a problem of the Kurdish people and HDP but all peoples of Turkey and all democratic forces across the country. Do not keep quiet, silence is approval.” 22 HDP members detained in Muğla’s Sınırsızlık Square while protesting against dismissal of elected HDP mayors in Diyarbakır, Van and Mardin.
Saadet Party vice-chair Birol Aydın issued a statement, “why were those permitted to run in elections only months ago are being dismissed today? This decision of dismissal is far from reason for Turkey and the region’s future.” Saadet Party chair Karamollaoğlu, “dismissal of elected mayors of Diyarbakır, Van and Mardin is to declare oversight on the nation’s will. It is neither within democracy nor justice to dismiss someone who has not been sentenced to prison term.”
IS CHP THE NEXT TARGET?
European Parliament Turkey Rapporteur Kati Piri, “the elected mayors of Diyarbakır, Van and Mardin are being dismissed 5 months after getting elected; what is next, dismissing Istanbul and Ankara mayors?” Pro-AKP Sabah journalist Ersin Ramoğlu wrote on his column “after HDP, it will be CHP municipalities where trustees will be appointed instead of 34 elected CHP mayors in Istanbul, Adana, Aydın for support to Gülenist FETÖ.”
27 bar associations including Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara and Diyarbakır declare “we do not accept this unlawful application that dismisses the idea of living together in harmony & peace” concerning the dismissal of elected mayors. Diyarbakır Bar Association chair Cihan Aydın announced “the dismissal of elected mayors and appointed trustees replacing them is an administrative coup”.
REACTIONS FROM CHP
CHP Istanbul Metropolitan Mayor Ekrem Imamoğlu announced, “Diyarbakır, Van, Mardin metropolitan mayors who were elected to office now being replaced by appointed trustees cannot be explained through democratic means; ignoring people’s will is unacceptable.” CHP Izmir Metropolitan Mayor Tunç Soyer, “not everyone is living their own destiny in this country; when something bad happens to one, it happens to all in a short while.”
CHP Istanbul deputy Mahmut Tanal reacted against dismissal of elected HDP mayors, “mayors get elected and they leave through elections; dismissal of elected mayors through such an application despite people’s will is to belittle nation’s will.” CHP deputy Mehmet Bekaroğlu, “this is not only cancellation of democracy, but also a message to the people to lose all hope in legitimate political processes.” CHP deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu, “we are facing a new coup. Coups do not only take place with arms and tanks; we see the coup against people’s will together with the coup against elections.” CHP group deputy chair Özgür Özel, “AKP on the final fork on the road has chosen fascism over democracy once again; if those elected through elections are not leaving through elections, the coup plotters are those in charge of the government, they are fascists.” CHP Adana local chair Mehmet Çelebi, “solidarity must keep growing; fascism can only be defeated through that.”
CHP spokesperson Faik Öztrak on dismissal of elected mayors in Diyarbakır, Van and Mardin, “dismissals are unlawful; if those who are elected into office will be replaced by appointed trustees, there is no meaning for elections.” CHP Istanbul Avcılar Mayor Turan Hançerli, “appointment of trustees instead of mayors who have been elected through people’s free will, is a sign that we are moving away from democracy as a country.”
CHP Youth Unit declared “AKP shall know that that our struggle is not being left unfinished; we will establish cities of peace together. We not only condemn the coup that took place on August 19, 2019 but also declare that we do not recognize appointment of trustees. The people who were permitted to participate in elections freely but after 4 months getting declared being ‘terrorized’, have been elected by the will of the people, we wish to remind this once again to the government. We wish to remind AKP government once again, the struggle we have led for June 23 in Istanbul is not to be left in the middle. We will initiate cities of peace against waste, corruption and treason to cities, we will be on the side of peace and equality. With solidarity & fraternity.”