Turkey sentences Kurdish elected mayor of Hakkari to 20 years in prison

A Turkish court sentenced pro-Kurdish DEM Party's Hakkari co-mayor to nearly 20 years in prison over "links to PKK." The government has recently detained the mayor and appointed the province's governor as a trustee to the municipality.

Reuters & Duvar English

A Turkish court sentenced a pro-Kurdish party co-mayor in southeast Turkey to nearly 20 years in prison on June 5 over "links to militants."

Mehmet Sıddıkk Akış, 53, co-mayor of Hakkari province bordering Iran and Iraq, was detained on June 3 and accused of having a high-level role in the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group.

"I know the trial is political," Akış said in his statement to the Hakkari criminal court. The mayor denied the charges.

Akış was taken out of the courthouse by an armored vehicle and sent to Van Prison.

His pro-Kurdish Peoples' Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party, the third largest party in parliament, said on X that the verdict is "null and void". Turkish authorities accuse the DEM Party of ties to the PKK, which it denies.

Akış was replaced on June 5 by the state governor, two months after the mayor won power in local elections.

DEM Party executives, Kurdish politicians, and locals have been attacked by the police and every attempt of protest tried to be surpassed in the province. The governor issued a 10-day protest ban immediately after the trustee appointment.

After the 2019 municipal elections, Turkey detained pro-Kurdish mayors, removing virtually all from their posts to be replaced by state officials over charges of ties to the PKK.

In the March 31 local elections, DEM reaffirmed its regional strength, winning 10 provinces in the mainly Kurdish southeast.

PKK is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. Over 40,000 people have been killed in the PKK's insurgency against the Turkish state, launched in 1984.