Duvar English

A Turkish court on Feb. 14 acquitted veteran Kurdish politician Ahmet Türk of the charges that had led to his removal from his post as mayor of the southeastern province of Mardin last year.

The Diyarbakır court also acquitted Necla Yıldırım, former mayor of the Mardin’s Mazıdağı district, who was dismissed from her position in 2016 over the same charges.

Türk and Yıldırım faced probes after they attended a funeral ceremony of a member of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Mazıdağı in 2015. Turkey considers the YPG as a terrorist organization due to its ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

In 2016, the Interior Ministry removed Türk and Yıldırım from their posts and replaced them with trustees.

In the March 31, 2019 local elections, Türk was elected as Mardin mayor again – from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). However, on Aug. 19, 2019, the Interior Ministry once again announced his dismissal, referring to the ongoing case against him.

The final hearing of the case took place on Feb. 14 at the Mardin 3rd Heavy Penal Court. The prosecutor demanded that Türk and Yıldırım be sentenced on charges of “making terror propaganda.”

Lawyer Erdal Kuzu said in defense that his clients had participated in the funeral ceremony in an attempt to offer condolences to the family who had voted for Türk and Yıldırım.

Kuzu said that his clients’ action did not constitute a crime and the YPG member’s funeral was brought to Turkey with the “permission” of the state.

After listening to both sides, the court ruled for the acquittal of Türk and Yıldırım.

The Turkish authorities’ removal and arrest of democratically elected mayors across southeastern Turkey is a common practice.

Thirty-two HDP mayors in the region have been stripped of their office and replaced with Ankara-appointed provincial and district governor “trustees.”  The HDP won 65 municipalities in the region in the March local election.