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Turkish police detain HDP co-mayor of Kurdish city

POLICE swooped to detain the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-mayor of the largely Kurdish city of Cizre today as the Turkish state continued its attacks on democracy.

Berivan Kutlu was taken into custody following a raid on her home in the early hours of the morning. She was replaced as mayor by a government-appointed trustee.

The reasons for her detention were not immediately known.

Ms Kutlu was first arrested in January last year, along with 21 other female politicians from the HDP, just two months before municipal elections.

They were accused of “terror activities or membership” related to their involvement with feminist organisation the Free Women’s Movement, which the Turkish state claims is linked to the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Cizre was run by government-appointed trustees, as was almost 90 other largely Kurdish municipalities, until the HDP won it back in elections last March.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned ahead of the elections that he would dismiss mayors if HDP candidates won, branding them terrorists — a frequent accusation made against the party by the Turkish state.

In August, he removed elected HDP mayors in Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van provinces and replaced them with trustees loyal to the government.

Since then, 20 HDP co-mayors have been jailed, while 28 co-mayors have been stripped of office on terrorism allegations.

The HDP warned of a “political genocide” against the country’s Kurdish population.

More than 15,000 HDP members and activists have been detained since 2015 and 6,000 of them jailed, according to the party.

At least 200 elected officials and seven former HDP MPs are behind bars, including former co-chairs Figen Yuksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas.

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