Forty-one out of 94 former mayors who were dismissed from their duties previously for having links to terrorist organizations received a total of over 237 years of punishment, the Interior Ministry announced yesterday. According to the ministry's statement, the former mayors have been given a total of 237 years, 237 months and 171 days of imprisonment by the first degree court under the scope of terrorism and crimes related to terrorism. Before the March 31 local elections, 94 mayors were dismissed from their duties by the Interior Ministry through decree laws in accordance with the 127th article of the constitution and act number 5393 of municipal law.
The mayors, who were from eastern and southeastern provinces and districts and were from the pro-PKK Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), were replaced by governors, deputy governors and district governors.
Although the court made its decision on 33 of 41 punished mayors, the appeal process still continues, while for seven of them the decision has been finalized. The file of one former mayor, however, has been closed since he died during the judgment process. The judgment process still continues for the expelled 52 mayors while 20 of them are currently detained.
Decree laws are a part of the state of emergency declared on July 20, 2016, following a deadly coup attempt by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). More than 130,000 public officials, many holding positions in the government and military, have been dismissed or suspended from their positions on the grounds of suspected involvement in the coup bid, affiliation with a terrorist organization and for posing a continuous threat.
According to these decree laws, persons who were dismissed from public office directly or indirectly cannot assume public offices, cannot be readmitted to the institution they served and cannot be employed in public services, regardless of the presence of any conviction.
Several public servants were also dismissed due to their affiliations with other terrorist organizations, including the PKK.
The PKK resumed its decades-old campaign in July 2015 after a three-year cease-fire collapsed. Since then more than 1,200 people, including security personnel and civilians, have lost their lives in PKK attacks. During the process, some HDP municipalities directly or indirectly supported these violent terrorist activities. As a result, Turkey removed the elected administrations of 94 municipalities in the region for their links to the PKK terrorist group and appointed trustees to these municipalities in 2016.
The new administrations' trustees have been welcomed by locals as they have brought new services and cut the money flow to the group. In the trustee-run municipalities, damaged infrastructure for drinking water, wastewater and sanitation has been repaired and new infrastructure has been built.
Despite these discharges, still, the struggle of Turkey against the mayors who support terrorist organizations still continues and the country had to expel three other mayors last month due to similar charges. The mayors of Diyarbakır, Van and Mardin metropolitan municipalities were dismissed early by the Interior Ministry over terrorism charges.
According to an official statement by the ministry, 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 suspended mayors as trustees.
Pursuant to Article 45 and Article 46 of municipality law, Diyarbakır Gov. Hasan Basri Güzeloğlu has been appointed as the acting metropolitan municipality mayor of Diyarbakır; Mardin Gov. Mustafa Yaman as the acting metropolitan municipality mayor of Mardin; and Van Gov. Mehmet Emin Bilmez as the acting metropolitan municipality mayor of Van.
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 else just being a member.
All mayors are from the HDP and were elected to their posts in the March 31 local elections. With the latest move, mayors linked to the HDP remain in control in cities in only 5 eastern provinces, namely Batman, Iğdır, Hakkari, Kars and Siirt.