In Türkiye, the elected Kurdish mayor of Van was denied a certificate of appointment. There are protests.

A group of Kurds.

The background to the protest is the subsequent exclusion of the elected mayor of the city of Van, Abdullah Zeydan. Photo: Mehmet Masum Suer/sopa/dpa

ISTANBUL taz | The Kurdish DEM party is talking about a coup against its elected mayor, and representatives of other opposition parties are also outraged: Abdullah Zeydan, elected mayor of Van on Sunday with 55.48 percent of the vote, the responsible governor denied him the certificate of appointment. Instead, the second-place candidate, the representative of the ruling AKP party, which only won 27 percent, was named the new mayor.

The decision sparked massive protests not only in Van and other predominantly Kurdish cities in the country's southeast, but also in the western cities of Istanbul and Izmir. During the spontaneous demonstrations, clashes occurred with the police, who used tear gas and batons against the protesters. According to Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya, a total of 89 people were detained in Van and Izmir.

In fact, the actions of the AKP-controlled authorities are a selective provocation. Abdullah Zeydan, the elected mayor, is a veteran of Kurdish politics. He was convicted of “terrorist propaganda” in 2016 for attending a funeral for Kurdish guerrillas. He was released from prison again in 2022. Zeydan regained his civil rights and months ago the responsible electoral authority confirmed that he could run as a candidate for mayor of Van.

However, shortly before the authorities closed on the Friday before last Sunday's elections, at the request of the Ministry of the Interior, the electoral authority changed its mind and excluded Zeydan from participating in the elections as a candidate, allegedly because he had a criminal record. . The candidate was not even informed of this decision, which was issued shortly before the end. Only after Monday's election did the governor's office tell him he shouldn't have run at all.

Gatherings are prohibited in many places.

With this provocation, the AKP managed to get angry DEM supporters, not only in Van, but also in Şırnak, Diyarbakır and Hakkari, to take to the streets and give the gendarmerie the opportunity to assemble a large contingent. On Tuesday night, the provincial governor banned gatherings in Van for the next 15 days. In other Kurdish cities, gatherings were also banned in some parts of the city.

The DEM, but also the CHP, fear that Van is only the beginning of a larger attack by the government against the results of the local elections. On Wednesday morning, AKP supporters protested in the Gaziosmanpaşa and Beykoz districts of Istanbul because the AKP is challenging the winners of the elections there. But the conflict continues to flare up, especially in the predominantly Kurdish communities in the country's southeast.

The DEM already complained on Sunday about the elections because, especially in Şırnak and Bitlis, the government sent a large number of soldiers and gendarmes to vote at the polls to prevent the DEM candidates from winning there. Furthermore, the DEM fears a scenario similar to that experienced after the local elections five years ago. At that time, the Kurdish party, still operating under the name HDP, had won mayoralty in 65 cities.

Kurdish rulers were deposed

With the accusation that the respective incumbent was working with a “terrorist organization”, a large number of Kurdish incumbents were gradually removed from their positions by the Ministry of the Interior and replaced by state administrators. This process does not have to be limited to the Kurdish southeast. There is also a completely transparent political process against the mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem İmamoğlu, for insulting officials, for which he has already been convicted in the first instance.

If the appeals court accepts this first instance ruling at the insistence of the government, İmamoğlu will have to go to prison for at least two years. He would also be banned from politics for several years. In a first meeting of the AKP party's executive committee after Sunday's defeat, state and party leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on his people to “finally wake up and fight.”

This call does not promise quick success in economic policy. Only on Tuesday the statistics office announced that the inflation rate had increased by another 3.5 percentage points compared to the previous month, to almost 70 percent. The AKP is now focused on questioning the legitimacy of the elections.

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