Local governments belong to the People; hands off Kars municipality!

122 democratic institutions, associations, platforms and political parties in Turkey have declared that they will not tolerate the restriction of the powers of local opposition governments and threats as to their replacement by appointed trustees. By releasing a joint declaration, the signatories have expressed their solidarity and support for Kars municipality after the recent news targeting our co-mayors Ayhan Bilgen and Şevin Alaca. The joint statement reads as follows:

Although it has been seen worldwide that local governments can play a crucial role in fighting the coronavirus epidemic, those municipalities, who have been in the forefront with their successful and effective solidarity campaigns in Turkey, are being targeted by the central government. After threats to the Istanbul, Adana and Mersin municipalities, the Municipality of Kars has now been made the target of calumny with deliberate and manipulative junk news. The co-Mayors Ayhan Bilgen and Şevin Alaca are under systematic attack.

Kars is a city with a multi-ethnic population, harboring Kurdish, Turkish, Terekeme, Laz, Azerbaijani, Molokan and other local groups. After the March 31, 2019 elections, the People's Democratic Party (HDP) took over the municipality with a debt of 400 million Turkish Liras. The Municipal Council consists of delegates from all the major parties, the HDP, AKP (Justice and Progress Party), MHP (National Movement Party), CHP (Republican People's Party) and DSP (Democratic Left Party). Once the coronavirus epidemic started, the local government in Kars put together a very effective solidarity campaign. And this led the ruling party to target the Kars Municipality.

The ruling party has been illegally replacing many elected mayors by so-called trustees, or appointed caretakers, and has almost turned this practice into a means of government. The appointment of these caretakers is a blatant usurpation of the right of the people to elect and be elected. The aim is to hinder the local governments from effectively fighting the epidemic and to turn the appointment of caretakers into a threat to the municipal governments elected by the people.

We are deeply concerned that the campaign launched against the Kars Municipality is proceeding step by step towards a dangerous possibility, namely, the appointment of a caretaker mayor. Not to take a stand against this threat to the Kars Municipality will mean further spreading and growth of the encroachment upon local governments, and the trampling of the will of the people. We call upon all democratic people to raise their voices in order to fend off the attack against the Kars Municipality.

Signatories of the petition:

Federation of Societies in Adiyaman, Federation of Societies in Agri, Akkay-Der (Association for Solidarity with the Kin of those lost in the Mediterranean), Association for the Dissemination of Alevi Bektasi Culture, Narlidere-İzmir, City Theater of Amed, Association for Anatolian Culture and Research (AKA-DER), Consumers' Cooperative for Life in Anatolia, Ankara Initiative for Freedom of Thought, Anti-capitalistic Moslems, Atakent People's Assembly, Atasehir Solidarity Network, Anadolu Association for Solidarity and Mutual Help for Bereaved Families (ANYAKAY-DER), Federation of Ardahan Hocvan Societies, Association of Military Opponents of Military Coups, (ADAM-DER), Freedom Party (AZADÎ PARTÎSÎ), Bakur- Kurdistan Democratic Party -North (PDK), Solidarity Network of Bahcelievler, Mothers for Peace, Batman Mebya Association, Federation of Associations in Bitlis, Bodrum Citizens' Initiative 2017, Group of Contemporary Lawyers (CAG), General Headquarters of the Association of Contemporary Jurists, Cekmekoy Solidarity Society, Darıca Laborers' Cultural Association, Datca Platform for Democracy, Unity for Democracy, Jurists for Democracy, Democratic Alevi Associations, Democratic Islamic Congress (DİK), Congress for a Democratic Society (DTK), Dersim Bar Association, Federation of Associations in Dersim ( DEDEF), Cultural and Mutual Help Association of People from Dersim in Kagithane, Eyup, Gokturk, Revolutionary Democratic Cultural Association (DDKD), Revolutionary Cultural and Friendship Association, Revolutionary Party, Dicle Society for Arts and Culture, Divrigi Cultural Society, Dialogue Group, MEBYA-DER -Society for Unity and Culture, Solidarity and Mutual Help for Bereaved Families in Diyarbakir the Cradle of Civilizations, Democratic Regions Party (DBP),Federation of Eastern and Southeastern Associations (DGD), Duzgun Baba Cemevi, Ecological Society, Federation of Elih- Batman Societies, Labor's Power Association, Labour Party (EMEP), Federation of Erzurum Associations, Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP), Fatih Solidarity, Platform for Rights and Justice, People's Houses (Halkevleri), People's Democratic Congress (HDK), People's Democratic Party (HDP), "No" Uskudar, Federation of Igdir Province Associations, People and Freedom Party (PIA), Federation of Istanbul Amed Associations (AMED-FED), Association of People from Varto in Istanbul, Kadikoy Solidarity Network, Confederation of Trade Unions of Public Employees ( KESK), KESK Chapters' Platform, Kaldirac (monthly political magazine), Federation of Karakoçan Associations, Cultural Society of Kars Digor, Kars Igdir Ardahan Beykoz Association, Opposition Art Works (Karsi Sanat), Kartal Solidarity Network, Kartal Association of Jurists, Participatory Lawyers (KAV), Kavga (Fight) Socialist Periodical, KAYY-DER Cultural Association, Istanbul Solidarity with Ida Mountain, Koçgiri Cultural Association, The Mole Collective, Kurdistan Democratic Party- Turkey (PDK-T), Kurdistan Communist Party (KKP), Society for Justice for the Oppressed, Maltepe Forum, Federation of Mardin Associations, Med Judicial and Solidarity Associations for the Families of the Detainees and Prisoners (MED TUHAD-FED), MED-DER, Mencel Theater, Mesopotamia Ecological Movement, Mesopotamia Cultural Center (MKM ), Mugla Environment Platform (MUÇEP), General Headquarters of Alumni Association of the Political Sciences Department of Ankara University, Federation of Associations in Muş , Nurtepe- Guzeltepe Solidarity Network, Middle East Cinema Academy Association, Democratic Lawyers for Freedom (ÖDAV), General Headquarters of the Democratic Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD), Pir Sultan Abdal Society, Pir Sultan Abdal Cultural Society Diyarbakır branch, Politika (newspaper), Sancaktepe Local Democratic Assembly, Sirvan Federation of Associations, Sisli Solidarity Network, Sisli Democratic Assembly, SKYP European Student Initiative, Association for Social Rights, Socialist Solidarity Platform (SODAP), Socialist Re-establishment Party (SYKP), Sultanbeyli Aziz Baba Cemevi, Sur Platform, Federation of Assyrian Associations, Assyrian Womens' Organization, Tarlabaşı Solidarity, Free Women's Movement - Tevgera Jinên Azad (TJA), Social Freedom Party (TÖP), Language Network, Tüm Tokatlılar Cultural and Solidarity Association of all Tokat (Tüm- Tok -Der), ÜNİVDER, Platform of Associations of Van, Federation of Varto Associations, Coordination of "Either the Canal or Istanbul", Initiative of the 78'ers, Green Left Party, Citizens' Initiative.

6 May 2020