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6 Kurdish politicians arrested days after detention on allegations of terrorism

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A Turkish court has arrested six politicians, former mayors and their deputies in the predominantly Kurdish province of Diyarbakır who were detained on June 8 as part of an ongoing crackdown on Kurdish politicians in the country, the Mezopotamya news agency reported on Wednesday.

The politicians, who were detained following raids across Diyarbakır and its districts as part of an investigation launched by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, were arrested following their statements at a Diyarbakır court on Wednesday.

They include Ahmet Kaya, a former co-mayor of Ergani district, along with former co-mayors Ramazan Kartalmış and Fesih Yalçın and deputy mayors Gülistan Polat, Esveri Malkoç and Cavidan Yaman.

The politicians are accused of “membership in a terrorist organization,” due to the rallies, municipal activities and other events they participated in between the years 2014-2019.

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

The development comes after the interior ministry announced last week the removal of former Hakkari co-mayor Mehmet Sıddık Akış of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (DEM Party) from office due to an ongoing investigation and a separate trial on terrorism-linked charges.

He was replaced by Hakkari Governor Ali Çelik.

The ministry’s move attracted widespread criticism and protests for being “anti-democratic” and “hijacking” the will of the Kurdish people.

Turkey became acquainted with the removal of democratically elected Kurdish mayors from office on terrorism accusations after the local elections in 2016 and 2019.

The removal of Akış came as a disappointment to many, leading to protests and calls on the government from various segments of society to end the controversial practice and respect the will of the Kurdish people.

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