One would expect the anti-Kurdish 'evil' that marks the core of Turkish political establishment to stop at least in these times of the coronavirus. It sadly does not. While the whole world is busy with finding ways to fight the virus, the Turkish government is using the pandemic climate as an opportunity to use the vilest forms of repression against Kurdish democratic institutions, their municipalities in particular, which makes it even harder for the Kurds to fight the coronavirus.
On March 23rd, Turkish police raided several HDP-run municipalities and houses in multiple Kurdish localities, detaining many elected mayors, and unlawfully replacing them with appointed Turkish government officials known as the "trustees." The newly seized HDP-run Kurdish municipalities are as follows: Batman (city center of the province of Batman), Silvan, Ergani, Lice, and Eğil (four districts of Diyarbakir), Güroymak (district of Bitlis), Gökçebağ (town in Siirt), and Halfeli (town in Iğdır). Including these new cases, Turkish government has officially appointed trustees to a total of 40 HDP-run municipalities since the local elections held on 31 March 2019. (This number excludes the 6 HDP co-mayors who won the elections but denied of their certificates of election with the excuse that they had previously been dismissed from their jobs by emergency rule decrees). In addition to current detentions, 21 Kurdish co-mayors elected on 31 March 2019 remain behind bars. (Most recently, on 9 March 2020, Dr. Selcuk Mizrakli, co-mayor of Diyarbakir metropolitan municipality, was sentenced to 9 years, 4 months and 15 days with the typical charge of 'membership in a terrorist organization' after a trial that was super-accelerated by the government. See appendix for details.)
Just like in the previous cases, there is of course no court decision for these new detentions and trustee appointments. The charges raised against our mayors are unsurprising - "supporting terrorism." We view this "trustee-rule" that is forcibly imposed on the Kurds as the very character of Turkish political rule in Kurdish provinces under the new presidential system; a clear case of internal colonialism to terrorize the Kurds and undermine their political will.
Hence, besides the coronavirus, we are simultaneously fighting another virus - that of racist authoritarianism against the Kurds and their democratic will. This virus of racist authoritarianism is also a severe public health issue and we are committed to surviving both viruses.
We hereby would like to express our deepest condolences for the victims of the coronavirus and our sympathy and solidarity with the health workers tirelessly fighting the virus across the globe.
And we call upon the international community, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the Congress of the Local and Regional Authorities, and the Committee of Regions of the EU in particular, to raise their voice and take immediate action against these unlawful and racist policies of the Turkey's government whose shamelessness seems to have no limits and best reveals itself in such attacks on the Kurds even during a highly fatal global pandemic.
Feleknas Uca & Hişyar Özsoy
Co-spokespersons of HDP’s Foreign Affairs Commission
24 March 2020