Statement by our Foreign Affairs Spokespersons regarding the recent arrests in Kars, including co-mayor Ms Sevin Alaca and 15 local politicians:
Co-mayor of Kars Ms Şevin Alaca and 15 more HDP administrators were arrested and 20 ESP politicians were detained last week.
On October 2nd, the co-mayor of Kars Mr Ayhan Bilgen and 16 HDP politicians, including former deputies and central executive board members, were arrested on the grounds of their alleged role in the Kobane protests in October 2014. On October 8th, after an eight-day detention period, 16 more local politicians of the HDP in Kars were arrested, including co-mayor Ms Şevin Alaca, co-chair of HDP’s Kars office Cengiz Anlı, deputy mayor Ms Muazzez Cagriekinci, members of the municipal council, members of the provincial assembly, and others. The court made the arrests with the usual terrorism-related charges, specifically criminalizing the system of co-mayorship that the HDP implements to promote gender equality and the “sister family” campaign that was carried out to provide poor families in Kars with financial support as part of the fight against the COVID 19.
Co-mayor Şevin Alaca, deputy mayor Muazzez Cagriekinci, three municipal council members and two members of the provincial general assembly had already been suspended from duty after their detention on October 1st and a trustee-governor was appointed to replace HDP’s elected co-mayors of Kars.
The Turkish government has so far appointed 48 trustees to replace the HDP mayors who were elected on 31 March 2019. In addition, 6 mayors who had won the elections in 2019 were denied their election certificates with the excuse that they had previously been dismissed from their jobs by emergency rule decrees. 38 HDP co-mayors, including Mr Ayhan Bilgen and Ms Şevin Alaca, elected in 2019 have been jailed so far. Of them, 18 are still in prison. Arrests of HDP mayors continue despite multiple calls and demands from various organs of the Council of Europe such as the Venice Commission and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. Co-mayor Ayhan Bilgen himself is a member of the Congress.
In addition to the arrest of 33 HDP politicians and elected local administrators in the first ten days of October, the police also detained 20 administrators of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) in Istanbul on October 7th. The co-chair of ESP Mr Şahin Tümüklü, co-chair of the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF) Ms Alev Özkiraz, and HDP Party Assembly member Ms Helin Yılmaz were among the detainees. The detainees were released with judicial control; the case will continue without them being arrested.
As the government gets weaker and scared, it gets even more aggressive and unlawful towards the democratic opposition. President Erdoğan and his allies are clearly in a desperate survival mood.
Our struggle goes on, as usual.
Feleknas Uca & Hişyar Özsoy
Co-spokespersons for Foreign Affairs
12 October 2020