In a press conference, the three pro-Kurdish mayors sacked by the Turkish government over alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) denounced a “political putsch” and said they vowed to challenge it in court. The mayors of Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van are all members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) democratically elected in March with strong majorities.
“We were deprived of the opportunity to serve the people by the political putsch on August 19” said the deposed Mardin mayor and a key figure in the Kurdish movement. “It’s a political decision aimed at preventing the Kurdish people’s struggle for democracy, to intimidate the people and to block our efforts to bring about change in Turkey” he added.
The three mayors also met the Heads of Mission of the EU Delegation to Turkey.
The EU Heads of Mission met today with the democratically elected mayors of Diyarbakir, Van and Mardin who have been temporarily suspended and replaced by state governors. pic.twitter.com/KRIozCXiY8
— EU Delegation Turkey (@EUDelegationTur) August 28, 2019
The Catalan example
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week defended the decision accusing the mayors of serving “terrorists instead of the people”. The interior ministry said there had been complaints against the three of providing financial support to the PKK. One of the arguments used by Suleyman Soylu to defend their controversial decision was the suspension and imprisonment of Catalan pro-independence leaders by Spain.
As reported by journalist Borzou Daragahi to The Independent, Soylu recalled in a meeting with journalists the suspension and persecution of elected officials of the Basque and Catalan independentist movements by Spain, comparing it with the decision of the Turkish government. “Although there has been no violent act, twelve Catalan leaders have been prosecuted for crimes of destruction of the constitutional order with violence and disobedience” he said. He also described the decision of the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan as “a legally justified step” to counter the PKK.