Longtime Kurdish politician will seek his seventh mayoral term in the Kurdish city of Mardin in southeastern Turkey. Photo: HDP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - The Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) again has decided to nominate Kurdish politician Ahmet Turk for the post of Mardin mayor after he was removed from the post on charges of alleged propaganda for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
"They forcefully imposed the qayyum decision on the Mardin Municipality and through qayyum, they put someone associated with AKP for the post of Mardin mayor," Turk said at a nomination ceremony in Mardin on Wednesday.
The “qayyum” process has been used by the Justice and Development Party-controlled Turkish state to replace elected mayors, council members, and judges in many Kurdish municipalities.
"It is the right time for us to restore our duties through the voice and will of the people and to return to serve the nation in the best possible way."
The co-mayor of the Kurdish city of Mardin in southeastern Turkey, Ahmet Turk, was elected six times to the post since the 1970s. He was released in early February 2017 after spending nearly three months in jail.
Turk assumed the post of Mardin mayor in 2014. On November 16, 2016, he was removed from his post and someone else was put in his place. He denied any allegations of PKK propaganda.
Turk, 75 and an MP, is one of many prominent Kurdish politicians who have been arrested by Turkish officials since November on charges of conducting propaganda activities for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Turk had been the leader of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP), when it was banned in 2009 for connections to the PKK. He was elected mayor as a member of the minor Democratic Regions Party (DBP).
Turk spent three years in prison after the 1980 coup along with hundreds of other activists, an imprisonment which he has addressed frequently in his public speeches and writings.
Speaking about the imprisonment in an interview with Rudaw in June, Turk talked about
the torture many Kurdish politicians faced in Turkish camps “covered with human blood.”
“They wanted to deter the Kurds from defending their identity,” he said at the time.
The HDP, as the largest pro-Kurdish party in Turkey, performed well in the parliamentary election in June winning 65 seats — six more than in the election in 2015.
Selahattin Demirtas won 8.3 percent of the votes in the presidential election campaigning primarily through a lawyer behind bars with limited media access.
Demirtas could serve up to 142 years in jail if convicted on the numerous charges he faces, stemming from allegations of ties to the PKK. He has denied the charges.
The HDP views the municipal elections, which are to be held no later than March 31, as a referendum on the AKP-dominated Turkish state.