Turkish gov’t running ’coup rehearsal’ with Kurdish mayor dismissals - HDP chairman

The dismissal on Friday of five more mayors from the majority-Kurdish left wing opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) by the Turkish government effectively constitutes a practice run for a coup, HDP Co-chair Mithat Sancar told reporters on Friday.

“Government speakers have been occupying public attention with gossip about military coups,” Sancar said, “It turns out that they were pursuing coup plans themselves.”

The government has “usurped the Iğdır, Siirt, Kurtalan, Baykan and Altınova municipalities,” Sancar added.

Since the local elections in March last year, 45 out of HDP’s 65 municipalities had their mayors dismissed on terrorism charges and replaced by government appointees, usually provincial or district governors. Six elected mayors from the party were never given their mandates to begin with, based on similar accusations. Over the previous election term, 92 out of 102 municipalities had had their mayors dismissed.

The practice constitutes a disavowal of democracy, ignores the will of the people and diminishes society’s faith in democracy and coexistence, Sancar said.

“The government’s putschist practice is implemented in a chain reaction stretched out over time,” he added.

As the government dismissed Kurdish mayors, it “chose to tame through a threat of dismissal” mayors from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Sancar said, condemning the government’s treatment of CHP mayors in Turkey’s major provinces.

The government is seeking to avenge its defeat on in the local elections, and the renewed mayoral election for Istanbul in June last year when CHP’s Ekrem İmamoğlu grew his slight advantage in March to a landslide victory.

HDP did not nominate a candidate where CHP mayors had a chance to win against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), and campaigned for its constituents to vote for opposition mayors, significantly contributing to the AKP losing Istanbul after more than two decades in power.

“As humanity battles the coronavirus pandemic through solidarity, the government has been pursuing plans to destroy the self-organisation of people,” he said.

“Democracy for the whole country, peace in Turkey and the region cannot be left for Kurds to achieve alone,” Sancar said, calling for unity among democratic forces and proponents of peace.

“Our core principle as a pro-democracy party that respects the will of the nation is that those who came via elections should leave via elections,” CHP Spokesman Faik Öztrak said in a press briefing on Friday.

“Unless there are crimes committed (by an elected official) that are determined in a court order, dismissals are not right,” Öztrak continued.

It is also wrong that replacement mayors were appointed by the government, he added, saying that a rightful dismissal of a mayor would necessitate an interim election.