First published on Open Democracy
The replacement of democratically elected HDP/DBP mayors and local municipality workers by AKP appointees is a grave threat to democracy in Turkish Kurdistan and the larger region.
In the aftermath of the July 2016 coup d’état attempt in Turkey, president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) has dismissed, detained and in some cases imprisoned co-mayors from 51 majority Kurdish local authorities across South East Turkey (North Kurdistan), replacing them with appointees from the AKP. The majority of these co-mayors belong to the AKP’s leading opposition parties, the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and its Kurdistan branch the Democratic Regions Party (DBP). Mass layoffs and detentions of municipality workers, again a majority of whom were Kurdish, followed, alongside an occupation of the municipality buildings by the Turkish constabulary forces. Amongst the seized municipalities are North Kurdistan’s de-facto capital city of Diyarbakir (Amed) and other politically consequential cities such as Van, Mardin, Siirt and Dersim.
The capture and occupation of the local authorities is symbolic of a new phase in repression against the democratic opposition in Turkey, following the failed military coup in July 2016. Continue reading