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Turkey detains five more Kurdish mayors over 'terrorism links'

The Peoples' Democratic Party co-leader said security forces stormed municipality buildings early Monday morning [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 March, 2020

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Turkey dismissed eight Kurdish mayors and detained five over terror allegations in a continued crackdown on the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party.

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Turkey, Kurds
Turkey detained five Kurdish mayors over suspicions of terrorism on Monday, according to news reports, signaling a continued crackdown on members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democractic Party (HDP).

Eight mayors of the leftist opposition HDP were dismissed over accusations of being members of a terrorist organisation, Reuters reported. Five were arrested, while the other three remain under investigation.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government accuse the HDP of being affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a militant group designated as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, something the party denies.

HDP party co-leader Mithat Sancar told reporters that security forces stormed municipality buildings early Monday morning.

"We reject with hatred this vile attempt that does not shy away from showing enmity against Kurds even in these difficult days when the whole world is battling an epidemic," Sancar said.

The eight mayors' municipalities spanned Turkey's east and southeast.

The civic leaders represented HDP-run city Batman, the Diyarbakir province districts of Ergani, Lice, Silvan and Egil, as well as districts in the provinces of Bitlis, Igdir and Siirt.

"A trustee was appointed in Batman, the city I live in, and the vote of 120,000 citizens was ignored by the signature of an appointed minister," Turkish human rights lawyer Erkan Senses said in a tweet.

In recent years, the HDP faced a major crackdown, with its former co-leaders and several politicians jailed and thousands of its members prosecuted.

Dozens of local politicians representing the party in the Kurdish-majority southeast have also been 
removed from their posts in past years.

As recently as last November, Ankara has been dismissing HDP mayors and replacing them with government-appointed trustees.

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