Syriac DEM-candidate wins hometown in Turkey’s local elections after nearly four decades abroad

After spending 38 years in Europe, DEM candidate Türkan Kayır, alongside co-mayor candidate Doğan Adıbelli, managed to secure nearly three-quarters of the vote in her hometown of Idil in Turkey’s eastern Şırnak province.

DEM Party candidates Türkan Kayır (R) with Doğan Adıbelli (L) become mayors of İdil in the Şırnak province.

Duvar English

Thirty-eight years after leaving her hometown, İdil in Turkey’s Şırnak province, 52-year-old Türkan Kayır won the mayoral election of her native town on March 31.

Kayır ran under the banner of the Peoples’ Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party together with co-mayor candidate lawyer Doğan Adıbelli, securing 71.27% of the votes, according to preliminary results.

Kayır left İdil for Europe in 1985 following her father’s death, according to an interview with Mesopotamia Agency on Feb. 29.

İdil was historically home to many Syriac families until the 1960s. However, following increased political, social, and economic pressure, many families moved to Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden in the era leading up to the 1980 coup.

Over the past decade, Kayır started visiting İdil frequently, feeling a sense of belonging to the region after all those years.

“I always told myself: ‘One day I will return to my land’ — and it happened,” Kayır told Mesopotamia Agency before the elections.

Kayır follows in the footsteps of Şükrü Tutuş, the town’s previous Syriac mayor, who served from 1966 to 1979 but was killed in an unresolved murder in 1994 while serving as the president of İdil’s Motherland Party (ANAP).

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate won the Şırnak municipality by less than 2,500 votes in the Kurdish-majority province. 

AKP wins the Şırnak municipality by a margin of 2,500 votes in the March 31 local elections.

The DEM Party protested the results, saying the law enforcement officers transferred to the province to cast votes have changed the outcome. 

"How will you face the people of Şırnak? You have hijacked their will," party representatives said to the AKP mayor during an April 1st press statement. 

On election day, police and military personnel were hauled in large groups to polling stations in various Kurdish-majority provinces. 

(English version by Wouter Massink)