Turkish gov't enhances efforts to combat municipalities supporting terrorist organizations

MERVE AYDOĞAN @mgulaydogan
Published 21.06.2016 23:46
Updated 21.06.2016 23:48

Following the fifth Cabinet meeting on Monday under the chairmanship of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş told members of the media that municipal council members and personnel who support the PKK have been identified. He said that the Interior Ministry is currently conducting investigations through civil inspectors, adding: "Unfortunately it is known that there are municipal council members and mayors who are assigning municipalities' facilities to help dig trenches, giving moral and monetary support to terrorist organizations. The Interior Ministry is conducting investigations regarding this through civil inspectors in [the east and southeast]." He further said that a legislative regulation could be made in order for the investigations more comprehensive.

During a visit to Diyarbakır last week, Environment and Urban Planning Minister Mehmet Özhaseki told members of the media that the government is planning two reforms to municipal law to curb support for terrorism. Özhaseki said: "Terrorism is a crime against humanity. The only thing to be done is to remove those in power from duty. It is irrelevant if they are elected or not. They will then be replaced with an eligible candidate. The legal reforms are ready and will be discussed at Parliament in the following days." Commenting on Özhaseki's remarks, Kurtulmuş told journalists that there are already mayors and municipal council members who have been dismissed from their positions, arrested and detained for openly supporting terrorism. "While the government conducts such intensive anti-terror operations, those municipal council members and mayors, unfortunately, who had assigned municipalities' facilities to aid in digging trenches, giving moral and monetary support to the terrorist organizations have been identified. This matter was addressed [at the Cabinet meeting]. … The Finance Ministry can also supervise the municipalities' budgets to monitor the spending. … If needed, legislative regulations can also be established regarding this matter," Kurtulmuş added.

Democratic Regions Party (DBP) municipalities' support for the PKK, either by supplying equipment such as trucks or bulldozers to help militants block streets for attacks or funding have long been mentioned. An investigation of a PKK terrorist attack that took place in eastern Van province last week concluded that the vehicle used in the attack belonged to the Van Municipality Water and Sewerage Administration (VASKİ), which is run by the DBP, the regional affiliate of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). In April, security forces revealed during operations that the PKK had used garbage trucks belonging to DBP-run municipalities for recruitment and carrying bombs in the Nusaybin district of southeastern Mardin province.

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