The European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur Nacho Sanchez Amor has said that “credibility of democracy is at stake” in Turkey after the government detained mayors of five more municipalities in Kurdish-majority areas on May 15.
“As stated by the CoE [Council of Europe] in the past, I urge Turkish authorities to stop removing mayors from office without court decisions. Local councils should have at least the possibility to appoint an interim mayor among its elected members! Credibility on fundamentals of democracy is at stake,” Amor wrote on his Twitter account on May 15.
Eight co-mayors from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), which the government accuses of links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), were detained at their homes. They were removed from office and replaced with government appointees.
The HDP has rejected the accusation and denounced the crackdown on the elected mayors as a government “coup.”
The mayors – Yaşar Akkuş of Iğdır, Berivan Helen Işık and Peymandara Turhan of Siirt, Ramazan Sarsılmaz and Özden Gülmez of Baykan district, Baran Akgül and Esmer Baran of Kurtalan district and Casim Budak of Altınova district in Muş – won the local elections held in March 2019.
The replacement of elected officials has been a common practice under the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Out of the 65 municipalities that the HDP won in the local elections of March 2019, some 45 posts have been now filled with appointed trustee officials.