Turkey: Co-mayors of Diyarbakır Arrested


Diyarbakır, Turkey—The two
co-mayors of Diyarbakir, a Kurdish-majority city in southeast Turkey, have been
arrested as part of a terrorism enquiry, security officials reported to the
press on Tuesday, 26 October 2016. The two are accused of making speeches in
support of the PKK and of greater political autonomy for Turkey`s estimated 16
million Kurds, and of using municipal vehicles to transport the bodies of dead
militants and of inciting violent protests, according to a statement by the

A heavy police presence
around the town hall following the arrests of Gültan Kişanak and Firat Anlı,
who together lead Diyarbakır, the capital of southeastern Turkey. The city is
under military operation since the breakdown of the cease-fire between Turkish
security forces and members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers` Party (PKK).

Returning from the United
Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) Congress in Bogotá, Colombia and Habitat
III, Quito, Ecuador, Gultan Kişanak was held at the local airport. Turkish
security forces arrested Firat Anli at his home in the southeastern city.

President Recep Tayyip
Erdoğan has vowed to prosecute local officials accused of links to the banned
Kurdistan Workers` Party (PKK).

This latest move follows the
purging of 28 elected mayors in largely Kurdish towns, sacked on 28 September
2016. Turkish executive authorities replaced the elected mayors with appointed
“trustees,” applying an emergency law that came into force following a failed
army-led coup in July.

The mayors targeted are
mostly members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples` Democratic Party (HDP), which has
condemned the September sackings as a coup by trustees.

The PKK was formed in the
late 1970s and launched an armed struggle against the Turkish government in
1984, calling for an independent Kurdish state within Turkey. Since then, more
than 40,000 people have died. In the 1990s, PKK rescinded its demand for an
independent Kurdish state, calling instead for more autonomy for the Kurdish
citizens of Turkey.

Authorities were reportedly
also searching the mayors’ office, security sources said. An aide to Kişanak
said the mayor`s home was being searched by police, but did not provide further
details. Police formed a security cordon around city hall in case the latest
detentions stirred unrest, witnesses said.

Ms. Kişanak, 55, is a
well-known Kurdish political figure and became Diyarbakir`s first female mayor
in 2014. Earlier on Tuesday, she testified upon the invitation of lawmakers at
a parliamentary commission in Ankara inquiring into an ostensible military coup
that failed on 15 July.

Photo: Diyarbakır Co-mayors
Gültan Kirşanak (left) and Firat Anlı (right). Source: BComú Global.

Download HIC-HLRN’s report
on the situation in Diyarbakır: Forced
Eviction and Urban Transformation as Tools of War: the Case of Diyarbakır,