In Turkey / Türkiye

By Turkish Minute, Monday, Sept 12, 2016

Figen Yüksekdağ, Co-chairperson of People's Democratic Party (HDP)

Figen Yüksekdağ, Co-chairperson of People’s Democratic Party (HDP)

A government decision to remove elected Kurdish mayors in Turkey’s Southeast has sparked an uproar across the region. People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chairperson Figen Yüksekdağ describes the move as a coup against the will of the people and is calling for mass protests against the decision.

Yüksekdağ delivered a speech on Sunday to angry supporters in Suruç, a border town in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa where the HDP mayor was removed. She was unable to enter the municipal office since the police had erected barriers outside.

“Those who inflicted a blow to the will of our people by laying siege to the bastions of democratic resistance and honor and who think they can remove the HDP and the Democratic Regions Party [DBP] as options and as hope are only seeing a dream,” she told a crowd gathered in front of the municipal office to vent their anger over the decision.

“They will wake up from this dream and will face reality once again.”

She also said that real “democracy watches” would begin there, in reference to nightly rallies held by supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for nearly a month after a failed coup attempt on July 15 to display solidarity and support for Turkey’s elected government. Critics then said those rallies quickly turned out to be partisan gatherings for the government and Erdoğan.

“We are not just a municipal building, we are the people. A coup took place today in 28 towns and provinces,” she said, referring to the number of elected mayors who have been deposed by the central government. “Those who say there was a coup against the state are now carrying out a coup against the nation. Today a coup is taking place against the Kurdish people.”

The removals of mayors will likely complicate any effort to solve the Kurdish question. Many say it will benefit hard-liners and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is fighting for autonomy in Turkey’s Southeast.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU. The U.S. on Saturday expressed concern over the decision to remove the elected mayors.

Related readings:

Purges in Turkey continue with hundreds of new arrests and 28 elected mayors deposed, news compilation with updates on New Cold War.org, Sept 11, 2016

Turkish PM: Gov’t to continue appointing administrators to Kurdish-run municipalities, by Turkish Minute, Sept 12, 2016

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