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Investigation launched into Kurdish mayor on terror charges

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Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into a mayor from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (DEM Party) in eastern Turkey on allegations of disseminating terrorist propaganda, the private DHA news agency reported.

Cevdet Konak, the mayor of Tunceli, who was elected in the local polls on March 31 with 40 percent of the vote, is facing the accusations due to the content of speeches he made before the local elections.

Although the name of the terrorist organization is not mentioned, Kurdish politicians in Turkey frequently face terror-related charges due to their alleged affiliation with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and its Western allies.

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya recently announced that ministry inspectors had launched an investigation into claims that the Turkish national anthem was not sung and the Turkish flag was not raised during the swearing-in of the city councils in the southeastern provinces of Mardin and Diyarbakır, won by DEM Party candidates by a landslide in the local elections.

The Mardin Prosecutor’s Office also announced later the launch of an investigation into the claims.

The initiation of investigations into DEM Party mayors on terrorism charges has led to fears about the appointment of trustees to these municipalities by the government on the grounds that they support the PKK.

The DEM Party’s predecessor, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), won 65 municipalities in Turkey’s eastern and southeastern regions in the March 31, 2019 local elections, but due to the decisions of Turkey’s Supreme Electoral Board (YSK) in six cases and the Interior Ministry, nearly 50 mayors were removed from office or not allowed to assume office.

Some Kurdish-run municipal officials had been replaced by trustees earlier in 2016.

The Turkish government claimed the appointment of trustees was a counterterrorism measure and that the elected mayors were funneling municipal funds to the PKK, which has been waging a bloody war in Turkey’s southeast since 1984.

The mayors denied the accusations and described them as politically motivated.

The trustees, who occupied the mayors’ posts for years, have faced accusations of poorly managing the cities, spending municipal funds lavishly, wasting municipal resources and indifference to the locals and their problems.

The DEM Party won a dozen municipalities in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast and east in the March 31 elections.

It won back 37 of the 48 municipalities whose mayors were ousted by the government after the 2019 elections.

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