HIC Condemns the Detention of the Mayors of Diyarbakir

The Habitat International Coalition
calls for the release of the Co-Mayors of Diyarbakir, Gultan Kisanak and Ferat Anli,
and of all detained and prosecuted public and civil agents, and demands the
Turkish authorities to respect, protect and fulfill Human Rights and restitute democracy
in Turkey. 

Since 2015,
a total of 74 mayors of the Kurdish region of South-East Turkey have been
arrested, 15 of them after the declaration of the State of Emergency at the end
of July 2016; a total of 33 mayors are still arrested and46 have been dismissed
of their office and replaced by the Turkish government without the involvement
of democratically elected local councils or new local elections.

Mrs. Gultan Kisanak, from the third
largest party in the Turkish parliament, the Peoples’ Democratic Party
(HDP), is the first female Mayor of Diyarbakir metropolitan city, which is
considered the Kurdish cultural capital in South-eastern Turkey. Mrs. Kisanakwas
arrested last October 25th, allegedly charged for terrorist
membership and propaganda, after participating to the 5th United
Cities and Local Governments World Congress (Bogotá, 12-15 October) and the
United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, Habitat
III (Quito, 17-20 October). During both events, the Mayor had the opportunity
to expose the alarming situation of Diyarbakir Metropolitan City and South-East
Region after the Turkish military operations following the cease-fire between
Turkish government and the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) broke in July
2015. Concerning the historical center of the metropolitan city of Diyarbakir
alone, the armed conflict displaced more than 23,000 inhabitants and27,000
residentsrisk forced evictions by means of a ministerial decree, while demolitions
of heritage buildings and confinement of certain areas are still on-going.
During both international events, Mrs. Kisanak denounced the practices from the
Turkish government contravening International Human Rights law’s principles and
practices in Diyarbakir and other cities in the region.

The Turkish
authorities arrested the Mayors of Diyarbakir a few days after Turkey adopted a
UN Conference’s Agenda that advocates for political decentralization and
establishes respect of culture, diversity and equality as key elements in the
humanization of human settlements. The UN High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR’s
), the Council of Europe (CoE’s
), the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG’s
) and numerous international and regional entities have expressed
their concern regarding Gultan Kisanak and Firat Anli’s arrest and the urgent
call for the prevalence of local democracy in Turkey. Moreover, the CoE’s Human
Rights Commissioner issued a memorandum
callingthe Turkish authorities to protect democracy, human rights and the rule
of law, including the use of due process and a reasoned, rational approach.

The Habitat
International Coalition joins these concerns and expresses its solidarity and
support to the detained and prosecuted mayors, public servants and political
and civil entities that struggle for peace, democracy and human rights; reminds
the Turkish authorities of its Human Rights obligations and commitments, among
them the Istanbul Declaration and the Habitat Agenda (Habitat II, 1996) that
recognizes local authorities as national government’s closest partners; and,
calls Turkish authorities to put and immediate end to the excesses of the State
of Emergency and Human Rights violations.

For more

International Coalition–Housing and Land Rights Network: Forced
Eviction and Urban Transformation as Tools of War: The case of Diyarbakir,

Metropolitan Municipality: Report
on Detainment of Gultan Kisanak and Firat Anli, Co-Mayors of Diyarbakir

Union of
Southeastern Anatolia Region Municipalities: Report
on Local Governments and Appointment of Trustees to Municipalities