DİYARBAKIR – Anadolu Agency
Four mayors in southeastern Turkey have been arrested for announcing their autonomy from Ankara in response to violent attacks by state forces during battles between the military and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Three people, including Hakkari Co-Mayor Dilek Hatipoğlu, were arrested by a local court on Aug. 23 for attempting to damage the constitutional system. Nurullah Çiftçi, a Hakkari Municipal Council member, and Peace and Democracy Party (HDP) District head İsmail Sihat Kaya were also arrested by the court.
A local court in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır ordered the arrest of five people on Aug. 23, including the co-mayors of Sur district, Seyid Narin and Fatma Şık Barut, as well as Silvan Co-Mayor Yüksel Bodakçı, on charges of “disrupting the unity and territorial integrity of the state.”
Two other suspects identified by their initials A.R.Ç. and G.Ö. were among the five arrested people, according to a statement released by Diyarbakır Public Prosecutor Ramazan Solmaz.
They were sent to prison pending further trial.
Two other people were released on conditional probation, the sources added.
Police are still on the lookout for four more suspects.
Four DBP co-mayors were detained on Aug. 19 in two districts of Diyarbakır over recent statements declaring autonomy from Ankara.
The recent prevalence of autonomy statements from DBP officials in southeastern provinces first began on Aug. 10 in Şırnak, when DBP provincial head Salih Gülenç vowed to “build their lives on the basis of democracy” on the grounds that the state had lost its legitimacy.
The second statement, meanwhile, came from Hakkari on the same day as military operations continued against the PKK. DBP Hakkari central district co-chair İbrahim Çiftçi declared the area’s autonomy, saying, “No one assigned by the state will govern us.”
On Aug. 15, similar autonomy statements came from the Silvan district of Diyarbakır and the southeastern province of Batman. Batman Municipality co-chairs Sabri Özdemir and Gülistan Akel made a joint statement declaring autonomy for the southeastern province.
In the wake of the announcement in Silvan, security forces initiated a spree of violence that resulted in numerous burnt-out buildings and allegations of human rights abuses.
On Aug. 22, the Interior Ministry launched investigations into 93 eastern municipalities held by the Democratic Regions Party (DBP) on charges of lending logistical support to the PKK.
The DBP, the sister party of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), holds municipalities in three metropolitan cities, 11 cities, 68 districts and 23 towns. The DBP-held metropolitan municipalities in Diyarbakır, Mardin and Van are subject to the investigation.