Diyarbakır mayor arrested over links to PKK

Two co-mayors Gültan Kışanak (L) and Fırat Anlı (R) during an event in Diyarbakir.
Two co-mayors Gültan Kışanak (L) and Fırat Anlı (R) during an event in Diyarbakir.

Diyarbakır Metropolitan Mayor Gültan Kışanak, a member of the pro-PKK Democratic Regions' Party (DBP), and her co-mayor Fırat Anlı have been arrested on Sunday as part of an anti-terrorism probe.

Kışanak and Anlı were detained late Tuesday on charges of various crimes including being a member of an armed terrorist group, making comments in support of a terrorist group, making calls for autonomy for the Kurdish people, legitimizing violence and attending the funerals of terrorists.

Ayla Akat AtaA former deputy of another pro-PKK party, the Peace and Democracy Party's (BDP), the predecessor for the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Ayla Akat Ata was also arrested Sunday for having links to the terrorist group.

In September, an official report by the Justice Ministry revealed at full length the involvement of DBP municipalities in various crimes, including Diyarbakır local wing of the HDP. DBP is the regional wing of the HDP, which had participated to nationwide parliament elections twice.

The following evidence was submitted regarding the involvement of Kışanak's Diyarbakır municipality in various crimes:

Some district municipalities in Diyarbakır, including Sur, Silvan and Lice, committed constitutional crimes by denying the state's authority and declaring self-governance in 2015. Some of Diyarbakır's municipal workers also attended demonstrations that were organized to support these so-called self-governance statements.

Vehicles belonging to many DBP municipalities, including Diyarbakır, were used to carry and bury deceased terrorist members of the PKK and the PKK's Syrian offshoot the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) armed wing the People's Protection Units (YPG).

Evidence revealed that some Diyarbarkır municipal funds were wired to PKK terrorists. Also, the municipality collected a large amount of money from the public under the name auspices of a "charity for Kobani."

Diyarbakır Municipality vehicles were used to dig ditches during street clashes between the PKK and security forces, which began after the PKK broke a ceasefire agreement by killing two police officers in their home in July 2015.

Members of the HDP have previously been criticized for attending PKK funerals. Kışanak is one of those accused who attended the funeral of PKK terrorist Mehmet Şirin Kocakaya, who was killed in the Lice district of Diyarbakır in a counterterror operation. HDP deputies Sibel Yiğitalp and Nursel Aydoğan also attended the funeral, which was held in Bağlar district. Despite the HDP's claims that they do not support the terrorist organization, the party's members and mayors have attended the funerals of PKK terrorists many times before. In the most controversial example, HDP deputy Tuba Hezer attended the funeral of the suicide bomber who perpetrated the Ankara car bombing on Feb. 17 that killed 28 people, most of them civilians, and wounded 61.

Kışanak was also indicted for malpractice by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor's Office on Oct. 4. In this case, the Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality halted public bus services in response to the appointment of administrators to some DBP municipalities by security decree. The Prosecutor's Office ruled that the municipality's action victimized the city's populace and launched an investigation into Kışanak.

The mayors of 29 municipalities were replaced by state administrators in early September through a governmental decree for allegedly aiding and abetting terrorists. Of the 29 mayors replaced, 25 are accused of links to the PKK, while the remaining four are accused of links to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). Among these, two are mayors of major cities (Batman and Hakkari), 24 are mayors of municipalities and two are mayors of smaller boroughs. Twelve of the 29 mayors are currently in jail pending trial on charges of terrorism. All of those dismissed due to PKK links are from the DBP. The mayors of the Sur and Silvan districts in Diyarbakır were among those removed from their posts.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU and resumed its 30-year armed campaign against the Turkish state in July 2015, after breaking a ceasefire agreement with Ankara that had been in force for roughly two years. Since then, PKK terrorist attacks have killed more than 600 security personnel and claimed the lives of many civilians, including women and children, while more than 7,000 PKK terrorists were killed in army operations.

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