Istanbul, 19 August 2019 (dpa/MIA) – Three pro-Kurdish party mayors have been suspended in south-eastern Turkey for their alleged affiliation to and support of a banned Kurdish militant group, the Interior Ministry said on Monday.
The elected mayors from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van, in the predominantly Kurdish south-east, have been suspended.
State news agency Anadolu said they have been replaced by the governor of the provinces, who is appointed by the government.
Following a failed coup in 2016, the government has replaced dozens of mayors from the HDP with trustees, claiming they had links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Some were jailed, others were sacked.
Ahead of nationwide local elections in March, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had threatened to replace HDP mayors with trustees if they were charged for terrorism-related links, even if they won.
Police also detained 418 people in 29 provinces over suspected links to the PKK, the Interior Ministry tweeted.
The PKK, which has waged a decades-long insurgency against the state, is considered to be a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.
Thousands of HDP members are in jail, including the former co-chief Selahattin Demirtas, who challenged Erdogan for the presidency last year.