Seventy intellectuals have signed a petition calling for the release of former Diyarbakır co-mayor Dr. Selçuk Mızraklı ahead of his trial Feb. 10. Mızraklı was replaced with a trustee by the Interior Ministry on August 19 of last year.
The former Diyarbakır co-mayor from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Mızraklı was arrested on the charge of “being a member of a terrorist organization” on Oct. 22, a day after being detained in the context of “an ongoing investigation.”
Mızraklı is facing 15 years in the trial, the second hearing of which took place Feb. 10 in the Diyarbakır Ninth Heavy Penal Court. The court ruled for the continuation of arrest.
Signatory organizations held a press conference Feb. 9 to urge the court to rule in favor of Mızraklı’s release.
Read aloud by politician and human rights activist Baskın Oran, the official statement by the group noted that over 100 HDP mayors or town council members have been sacked and replaced with trustees since the March 31, 2019 local elections, calling the pattern a “clear-out operation.”
“That these arrests [of mayors] were based on unlawful or fake evidence, the government’s delivery of the municipalities by force to the political ruling class, and the government’s threats that they would assign trustees prior to the elections are all signs that this coup was premeditated,” said the statement.
The statement added that the accusations against Mızraklı were all unfounded and that his arrest constitutes political hostage-taking.
Participants of the press conference include the Diyarbakır Bar, the Human Rights Association (İHD), the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, the Rights İnitiative (Hak İnsiyatifi), the Confederation of Public Employees Trade Unions (KESK) and the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB).
Among individual signatories are Turkish journalist Aydın Engin, HDP deputy and human rights activist Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu and Duvar English columnist Mehveş Evin.