Turkish presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said on Nov. 27 that the 24 mayors of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) who were previously suspended from their posts on alleged links to terrorism will be found guilty in court at the end of their judicial processes.
Asked by Deutsche Welle’s Conflict Zone host Tim Sebastian why the HDP mayors were removed from their posts although court trials are still underway and they have not been convicted yet, Kalın said: “They will be charged of course.”
Kalın made the comments during a special interview organized as part of the Berlin Foreign Policy Forum in cooperation with the Körber Foundation.
“They [the mayors] were unfortunately supporting the PKK with people’s money,” Kalın said, referring to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Host Sebastian criticized Turkish authorities for not respecting the principle of the presumption of innocence, saying: “You trash the democratic process.”
The Turkish government has removed 24 mayors of HDP since the March local elections, mainly due to alleged links to terrorism, and appointed replacements to run their municipalities.
The HDP said in a statement on Nov. 20 that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), were “stealing the will of the peoples” by appointing trustees.
Calling for an early election to protest the government’s dismissal of its mayors, the HDP said: “We say ‘early election’ for the peoples of Turkey to be rid of the AKP-MHP authority. This is a call for confrontation. We’re saying bring it on.”