The suspensions of the mayors of three southeastern provinces were the result of the mayors' monetary and psychological support for the PKK terrorist organization, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said Thursday.
"There is a network giving money, strategy and psychological support [to the PKK]. For this reason, we took a step on Monday, as you know," Soylu said.
According to an official statement by the Interior Ministry on Monday, the mayors of Diyarbakır, Mardin and Van
provinces – Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı, Ahmet Türk and Bedia Özgökçe Ertan, respectively – have been suspended for supporting terrorism. The state-appointed governors of the provinces will temporarily replace the suspended mayors as trustees.
The statement added that the mayors already had active cases against them in which they were accused of crimes such as establishing or spreading propaganda for a terror group or just being a member.
"We have done nothing wrong. If we conduct an armed struggle in the mountains [against the terrorist organization], we had to take this step as well. Because both moral support and food supplies are going from those municipalities to terrorists," Soylu further underlined, referring to the ongoing military counterterrorism operations in the region.
Turkish security forces regularly conduct counterterrorism operations in the eastern and southeastern provinces of Turkey where the PKK has attempted to establish a strong presence and bases.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) also carry out cross-border operations in northern Iraq, a region where PKK terrorists have hideouts and bases from which to carry out attacks in Turkey.
Soylu also said 635 PKK terrorists have been neutralized in nearly 81,000 anti-terror operations since the start of 2019.
"We've been combating PKK terror for 40 years. We have neutralized 635 PKK terrorists in 80,570 operations since the start of this year," Soylu said.
Expressing that the suspended mayors have been raising their voices against the decision for the last three days, Soylu underlined that none of them said once that they had nothing to do with the PKK. "None of them came out said, ‘I've nothing to do with the PKK. I'm against both the PKK and the terrorism, they have been slandering me,'" he said. He also highlighted that while there is evidence that proves these former mayors' ties to the PKK and many other wrongdoings, it is not fair to blame the government for taking such action against terrorism.