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Clashes follow pro-Kurdish mayor's removal in Turkey: witnesses


Tuesday, 4 June, 2024 , 19:42

Diyarbakir, Turkey, June 4, 2024 (AFP) — Several protesters were hurt and detained on Tuesday after security forces moved in during a demonstration against the removal of a pro-Kurdish mayor in Turkey's southeast, witnesses told AFP.

The trouble came a day after the government announced the replacement of the mayor from the DEM party, which authorities accuse of links to outlawed Kurdish militants.

Mehmet Siddik Akis was the first to be dismissed since local elections in March, in which DEM gained control of local authorities in several large towns in Turkey's Kurdish-majority southeast.

Eyewitnesses told AFP that there were arrests and casualties during the demonstration in the city of Hakkari -- where Akis served as mayor before being accused of belonging to a "terrorist" organisation.

According to opposition outlet Medyascope, police intervened with rubber bullets against members of the former mayor's party DEM and local residents.

Protesters gathered on Tuesday to protest against Akis's dismissal despite the governor's ban on all demonstrations for the next 10 days.

The vice-president of the DEM, Gulistan Kilic Kocyigit, told reporters the move was "an attack on the freedom to vote".

Ali Celik, governor of Hakkari, was appointed in Akis's place, the interior ministry said on Monday.

The CHP, the opposition Republican People's Party, expressed its support for the deposed mayor on Monday and sent a delegation to Hakkari.

More than 50 mayors elected in Turkey's southeast in the 2019 local elections on the HDP (now DEM) ticket were replaced by state-appointed administrators for alleged ties to Kurdish militants.

The moves followed a 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government, which prompted a massive crackdown on opponents of all stripes.