EU Expresses ‘Deep Concern’ Over Appointment of Trustees to HDP Municipalities

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Click to read the article in Turkish

The European Union (EU) has denounced the recent appointment of trustees to five more Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) municipalities.

Releasing a written statement yesterday (May 18), Josep Borrell Fontelles, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, has expressed “deep concern” about the latest developments in the country.

Borrell has stated the following about the issue:

‘They appear to be politically motivated’

“Decisions and actions taken by the Turkish authorities against municipalities with mayors from opposition parties remain of deep concern, in particular when they appear to be politically motivated.

“This is notably the case of the recent suspension of five more mayors in the south-east of the country and their replacement with trustees.

“The total number of dismissed mayors in the south-east of Turkey since August 2019 reached 45. In addition, hundreds of local politicians and elected office holders and thousands of members of the HDP have been detained on terrorism-related charges since the local elections in March 2019, and investigations have been launched against other mayors.

‘Fight terrorism in accordance with rule of law’

“As previously stated, while the Turkish government has a legitimate right to fight terrorism, it is also responsible for ensuring this is done in accordance with the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, enshrined in its Constitution and Turkey’s international commitments. It should not be done for political reasons, applying broad anti-terror or criminal legislation.

‘Repeal the measures inhibiting local democracy’

“These measures, along with the excessive use of legal proceedings against local elected representatives, exemplified by the launch of criminal investigations against the mayors of Istanbul and Ankara in mid-April, seriously undermine the proper functioning of local democracy.

“Turkey should repeal measures inhibiting the functioning of local democracy, in line with recommendations of Venice Commission and with Turkey’s commitment to European Charter of Local Self-Government.”

What happened?

On May 15, 2020, the Ministry of Interior dismissed HDP’s Siirt Provincial Co-Mayor Berivan Helen Işık, Baykan District Co-Mayor Ramazan Sarsılmaz, Kurtalan District Co-Mayor Baran Akgül, Iğdır Provincial Co-Mayor Yaşar Akkuş and Altınova Town Co-Mayor Casim Budak. Trustees have been appointed in place of dismissed HDP co-mayors. The ousted co-mayors were detained shortly afterwards.

While Altınova Co-Mayor Casim Budak was arrested on May 16, Iğdır Co-Mayor Yaşar Akkuş was arrested on May 18.

In the last local elections on March 31, 2019, the HDP won 65 municipalities across Turkey, including three metropolitan municipalities, namely Van, Mardin and Diyarbakır. While municipalities have been appointed to 45 HDP municipalities so far, six elected co-mayors were not given their certificates of election because they had been discharged from public service by statutory decrees. 21 co-mayors are currently behind bars. (EKN/SD)

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