DEM Party MPs protest against Hakkari trustee in Ankara, Istanbul / DUVAR

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The pro-Kurdish DEM Party deputies have protested the appointment of a trustee to replace their Hakkari mayor in Istanbul, by unfurling a banner from the Bosphorus Bridge, and the capital province of Ankara, where deputies marched to the Interior Ministry.

Duvar English, June 7, 2024

Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party deputies on June 6 held a press conference in front of the parliament in the capital province of Ankara. Deputies protested the ousting of Mehmet Sıddık Akış, the co-mayor of the eastern Hakkari province, and his replacement with a government trustee after his detention on June 3.

Deputies Gülistan Kılıç Koçyiğit and Sezai Temelli, and parliamentary group leaders of the party read the statement with the attendance of many DEM Party deputies. 

Participants unfurled banners reading « Trustee is a coup » and « The municipalities are ours, we won’t allow confiscation. »

Deputy Koçyiğit highlighted the threat of the trustee policy spreading across the country, « Elections were held on March 31, and the government itself emphasized a new era. They claimed to have received the messages from the voters, but clearly, they haven’t. Instead, they have launched another attack against the people, the ballot box, and democracy.”

The deputy continued, “Starting this initiative from Hakkari is significant because the only way this regime can survive is by attacking the Kurds.”

Koçyiğit held that the coup against the people’s will in Hakkari, would not be confined to Hakkari and would spread across the country. 

“Everyone across Turkey must oppose this illegality. If we defend democracy together, we can win together,” the deputy concluded, emphasizing that the Ministry of Interior fabricated accusations against the elected mayor.

After the statement, DEM Party deputies marched towards the Ministry of Interior with the slogan « Trustee is a coup, no to the coup. »

Party representatives held a simultaneous demonstration in Istanbul. DEM Party Istanbul deputies hung a banner reading « Trustee, get out » on the Bosphorus Bridge.

Istanbul deputies Kezban Konukçu and Celal Fırat unfurled the banner from the Bosphorus Bridge and made a speech on the bridge. 

Konukçu stated that they would not allow the usurpation of the Kurdish people’s will, « because the usurpation of the Kurdish people’s will means the usurpation of all people’s will.” 

Fırat drew attention to the contradiction of the famous saying of the Turkish Republic, “Sovereignty rests unconditionally with the people.” 

“You say this and then appoint trustees to the very people’s will. If sovereignty unconditionally belongs to the people, they must respect the people’s will, » said Deputy Fırat, according to reporting by the Mesopotamia Agency. 

The deputies then chanted « Long live the Hakkari resistance” (“Bijî berxwedana Colemêrg” in Kurdish).

What happened?

The Turkish Interior Ministry on June 3 removed DEM Party mayor Mehmet Sıddık Akış from Hakkari Municipality and appointed the province’s governor as a trustee. 

Police detained the elected mayor, and the court on June 6 sentenced him to 19 years and six months for « links to militants » of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). 

Similarly, the electoral council had attempted to revoke the victory of the DEM Party co-mayor of the Van municipality, claiming he did not hold the right to be elected due to a prior indictment. The post was presented to the ruling AKP candidate, who had garnered only 27.15 percent of the votes in the province.

Following a wave of protests in Van and across Turkey, the council stepped back and handed the mayorship to the elected DEM Party candidate Abdullah Zeydan.

The trustee appointments are not a new sight in Kurdish provinces. After the 2019 municipal elections, Turkey detained pro-Kurdish mayors, removing virtually all from their posts to be replaced by state officials over charges of ties to the PKK.

In the March 31 local elections, DEM reaffirmed its regional strength, winning 10 provinces in the mainly Kurdish southeast.

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