Vecdi Erbay / DİYARBAKIR

After depriving thousands of villagers of electricity since May in the middle of Turkey’s coronavirus outbreak, prosecutors have launched investigations against a number of officials from the southeastern municipality of Mardin and the Dicle Electric Distribution Company (DEDAŞ). 

Five officials from the Mardin Municipality and three businessmen have been arrested, including DEDAŞ Mardin provincial director Mehmet Bulut. The Mardin governor and municipal mayor Mustafa Yaman, who was appointed as the government’s trustee leader after it ousted the elected candidate from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), was removed from his posts. 

The officials face charges of corruption, infraction of rules, embezzlement, bribery, bid rigging, and depriving the public of their right to public services. 

Locals are curious as to whether an investigation will be opened against Yaman, whom they believe to be responsible for the fiasco. The ongoing electricity cuts have also prevented villagers from accessing water, as electricity is required to draw water from the village wells. 

Many news reports came out regarding the villagers, the farmers and their plight resulting from the cuts, and deputies from the HDP and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) submitted inquiries regarding the matter, while deputies from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) said that they had informed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about the situation and that it would be solved shortly. 

After HDP deputy Pero Dündar filed a parliamentary inquiry regarding the cuts, the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources responded by saying that they were in accordance with the legislation and that only those who had not paid their bills had their electricity cut, claiming that mass cuts had not been  implemented. 

However, the electricity cuts lasted between May 14 and July 25. Two weeks after they began, lawyer Hamdullah Korkmaz filed criminal complaints on the behalf of nearly a thousand farmers in the area. 

“Although these individuals have committed many crimes against the locals for years, they have always benefit from their actions as they have not faced an effective legal struggle until today. Since they derived strength from this, they became so blind and exceeded their boundaries to the point where they felt brave enough to not implement the decisions made by independent courts,” Korkmaz said. 

The DEDAŞ power cuts coincided with extremely hot weather in Mardin, depriving villagers, their animals, and their crops of water during the coronavirus epidemic.  

“From the very beginning of this process, we have always believed that justice will do what is necessary in the face of lawlessness. As we expected, at the current stage the power cuts have been completely stopped and a deserving indictment was prepared for the perpetrators,” Korkmaz said.