Ayhan Bilgen, ex-MP from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the co-mayor of Kars province in the east of Turkey, was detained on 25 September for participating in the October 2014 protests against the siege of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani by Islamic State, alongside of many other prominent members of the party.
And in the early hours of today another operation targeting the HDP members was carried out in Kars. 19 HDP members including co-mayor Şevin Alaca Kars, Deputy co-mayor Muazzez Çağrıtekinci,
and provincial co-chair Cengiz Anlı HDP were detained on the allegation of being a member of an illegal terrorist organisation.
The latest detention of HDP members have overlapped with Ayhan Bilgen’s announcement about his resignation decision via his Twitter account on Sept. 30. Bilgen has stated that he will resign from his post if no trustee is appointed when his detention period ends.
Bilgen also said that “Kars is competent enough to govern itself” since municipal council has made decisions unanimously for the last one and a half year. Bilgen suggested that five parties can form a new administration for the Kars municipality by coming to an agreement.
Since the March 2019 municipal elections, mayors have been replaced by trustees in more than half of the municipalities won by the HDP. Kars is the latest province which is governed by HDP co-mayors.
HDP is a legal political party in Turkey, but participating to the party activities can easily result in charges of “terrorism”.
Appointing trustees by fabricated allegations is a violation of the right to vote and harms democracy.
We urge British politicians to respond to the crackdowns against HDP and to condemn AKP’s attacks on democracy.