EP: We urge Turkish authorities to reinstate all mayors and other elected officials who won March 2019 local elections

European Parliament has adopted a resolution on the replacement of our co-mayors of Diyarbakır, Van and Mardin with trustees. The bill of the resolution was submitted to the parliament by the European United Left–Nordic Green Left (GUE/GNL) group. 

The resolution reads as follows:

European Parliament;

1.Condemns the decision made by the Turkish authorities to remove democratically elected mayors from office on the basis of questionable evidence; stresses that these actions continue to undermine the ability of the political opposition to exercise their rights and fulfil their democratic roles; calls on the Turkish authorities to immediately and unconditionally release members of the opposition arrested as part of the crackdown on all voices of dissent in the country and to drop all charges against them;

2.Strongly criticises the arbitrary replacement of local elected representatives by
unelected trustees, which further undermines the democratic structure of Turkey; calls
on the Turkish authorities to reinstate all mayors and other elected officials who won
local elections on 31 March 2019 and were prevented from assuming office or were
dismissed or replaced with unelected trustees on the basis of unsubstantiated

3.Strongly condemns the politically motivated sentence of Canan Kaftancıoğlu, who is clearly being punished for having played a key role in the successful election campaign of the mayor of Istanbul, and demands its immediate reversal;

4.Condemns the threats of the Turkish authorities to dismiss other elected officials and calls on Turkey to refrain from further intimidation measures;

5.Reiterates the importance of good relations with Turkey that are based on shared values, respect for human rights, the rule of law, free and democratic elections -including the upholding of electoral results – fundamental freedoms and the universal right to a fair trial; calls on the Turkish Government to guarantee the human rights of all people, including those in need of international protection, that live and work in Turkey;

6.Reiterates its profound concern at the ongoing deterioration of fundamental freedoms and the rule of law in Turkey, and condemns the use of arbitrary detention, judicial and administrative harassment, travel bans in addition to other means intended to persecute thousands of Turkish citizens, including politicians and elected officials, human rights defenders, civil servants, members of civil society organisations, academics and countless ordinary citizens; expresses concerns over reported continuous prosecutions and investigations into overly broad and vague terrorism offences;

7.Urges Turkey to make its anti-terrorism legislation compliant with international human rights standards; reiterates that broadly defined Turkish anti-terrorism legislation should not be used to punish citizens and the media for exercising their right of freedom of expression, or to arbitrarily remove elected representatives and replace them with Government trustees;

8.Calls on the Turkish authorities to uphold international principles, ensuring pluralism and the freedoms of association and expression, best practices and guarantee an enabling environment for those elected through the free and fair expression of the will of the Turkish people; stresses that these decisions violate the right to free elections, the right to political participation, and the right to freedom of expression under the ECHR;

9.Reiterates its concerns over the excessive use of legal proceedings against local elected representatives in Turkey, and their replacement by appointed officials – a practice that seriously undermines the proper functioning of local democracy;

10.Calls on the Turkish Government to ensure that all individuals have the right to due process and to have their cases reviewed by an independent judicial court, in accordance with international standards, that can ensure redress – including compensation for the material and moral damage caused; calls on Turkey to ensure the operational, structural and financial independence of the Turkish Human Rights and Equality Institution and of the Turkish Ombudsman Institution in order to guarantee their capacity to provide genuine review and redress opportunities and to abide by judgments from the European Court of Human Rights;

11.Condemns the continued arrest of Selahattin Demirtaş, leader of the opposition and presidential candidate, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release; takes note of the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights on his case, which calls on the Turkish authorities to release him immediately;

12.Expresses serious concern over the monitoring of social media platforms and the closedown of social media accounts by the Turkish authorities;

13.Calls for the EEAS and the Commission to provide Parliament with a comprehensive debrief on the topics discussed during the EU-Turkey political dialogue of 13 September 2019;

14.Urges the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Commission and Member States to continue to bring up the situation of arrested members of the opposition, human rights defenders, political activists, lawyers, journalists and academics who are in detention with their Turkish interlocutors, and to provide diplomatic and political support for them, including trial observation and case monitoring; calls on the Commission and the Member States to increase the use of emergency grants for human rights defenders and to ensure the full implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders;

15.Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Turkish President, Turkish Government and its Parliament and requests that this resolution be translated into Turkish.

19 September 2019