PES condemns latest wave of arrests of legally elected mayors in Turkey


The four arrested mayors from the opposition party HDP

The four arrested mayors from the opposition party HDP (clockwise): Yaşar Akkuş, Berivan Helen Işık, Ramazan Sarsılmaz, Bara Akgül.

The Party of European Socialists (PES) is deeply concerned by reports that Turkish authorities have detained four democratically elected mayors from Halklarin Demokratik Partisi (HDP), an associate member of the PES.

In yet another attack on democracy by President Erdogan, the mayors – Yaşar Akkuş of Idgir, Berivan Helen Işık of Siirt, Ramazan Sarsılmaz of Baykan and Bara Akgül of Kurtalan – were detained at their homes yesterday (15 May). They have been removed from office and replaced with government appointees.

Of the 65 municipalities won by HDP in last elections in March 2019, with arrests and administrative dismissals more than 45 have been now taken over by the central Government. Seven former HDP lawmakers, including its former chairman Selahattin Demirtas, also remain in prison.

PES President Sergei Stanishev said:

“We are witnessing yet another attack on democracy from President Erdogan, who will use any means to keep hold of power, including removing democratically elected mayors who oppose him. We condemn this denial of democracy and violation of the rule of law in the strongest possible terms.

“The PES stands in solidarity with all the mayors and HDP lawmakers who have been detained by the Erdogan regime. You are not alone, democrats across the world are focused on this injustice. The European progressive political family is with you and we are fighting for your rights and democracy to be respected.”

The PES has long raised concerned about democracy and the rule of law in Turkey, where authorities are systematically working to undermine progressive political representation. Late last year a PES delegation visited the country to show solidarity with the HDP and the Kurdish people.