Ousted HDP mayors react as Erdogan promises judicial action

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan answered questions Wednesday night while flying back from a visit to Russia, telling reporters that new judicial actions would be opened into recently dismissed mayors with the nation’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

On Aug. 19, the HDP mayors of the southeastern cities of Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van were suspended for alleged links to terror organizations and allegedly misusing municipal funds to support the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a militant group that has been waging war against the Turkish state since the 1980s.

The mayors were replaced with state-appointed governors and their dismissals brought the total number of HDP officials suspended since the March 31 municipal elections to 88. Erdogan said the mayors “sent taxes distributed to municipalities to Qandil,” referring to the PKK leadership’s base in northern Iraq, and that new judicial actions would begin when the Turkish Parliament reopens on Oct. 1.

Erdogan told reporters on his plane, “They are not decisions that we will make emotionally. The judiciary will make these decisions.”

In response to the allegations, the three dismissed mayors held press conferences in Istanbul on Thursday, first with foreign journalists and then the Turkish press, to refute the charges that led to their suspensions earlier this month. Dismissed Diyarbakir Mayor Selcuk Mizrakli, Mardin Mayor Ahmet Turk and Van Mayor Bedia Ozgokce Ertan fielded questions from reporters, saying the state’s actions were unconstitutional and that they would fight allegations of terror links in Turkish courts to recover their positions.

“This decision is completely political as today there’s a growing demand for change from the opposition, and the government’s basic aim is to create obstacles for us and benefits for themselves to protect their own interests,” Turk said during the press conference.

Read the full story on Al Monitor: https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/08/hdp-mayors-respond-terror-charges.html#ixzz5y11MQYXb