Urgent international call following the replacement of the elected mayor with a government trustee in Hakkari

Statement by our Foreign Affairs Co-Spokespersons Ebru Günay & Berdan Öztürk:

Mr Memet Sıddık Akış, the elected Co-Mayor of Hakkari Municipality, was detained this morning and replaced by the Governor of Hakkari.

The investigation file used to justify this operation is entirely based on groundless allegations by the police and the prosecutor. The dismissal of Mr Akış, who was democratically elected, is a blatant coup against the will of the people of Hakkari, where the majority of the population is Kurdish.

The AKP-MHP coalition's attempt to avenge their severe loss in the local elections by attacking the DEM Party municipalities means the abolition of the constitutional right to vote and be elected.

Judgements by the European Court of Human Rights have shown that the broad and vague definition of “terrorism” articulated by the legal system in Turkey has turned into an instrument used by the government to eliminate its political rivals. It is clear that the dismissal of co-mayors and appointment of trustees by the Ministry of Interior is totally unlawful.

Trustees previously appointed to HDP municipalities have not only sabotaged the will of the Kurdish people, but have also generated massive corruption and financial losses. The economic and political destruction caused by the trustees appointed by the AKP-MHP coalition is a major obstacle to the democratization of the country and the democratic solution of the Kurdish Question. The fact that this trustee policy has become a kind of routine practice, suggests that trustees could be appointed in the near future to municipalities run by all opposition parties, including Istanbul.

We would like to emphasize that the appointment of a trustee in Hakkari is not only a “domestic issue”. Turkey is a member of the Council of Europe and is also negotiating with the EU for full membership. Despite many promises of democratization and millions of Euros in funding, Turkey's democratic institutions are subjected to systematic repression, and elected politicians are exposed to judicial oppression.

We call on all pro-democracy communities, all parties and international institutions, to take a firm stance against this political coup, to stand in solidarity with the DEM Party, and to defend the political will of the people of Hakkari.

Ebru Günay & Berdan Öztürk
Co-Spokespersons of DEM Party Foreign Affairs Commission
3 June 2024