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Turkey arrests another elected HDP co-mayor

TURKEY arrested another elected co-mayor of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) yesterday evening for refusing to issue communications ordered by the state.

Halfeli municipality co-mayor Hasan Safa was removed from his post and detained after refusing to share a message “reassuring people” and asking them to “stay calm” after the dismissal of HDP mayors from four municipalities earlier that day.

Tensions flared after government-appointed trustees took over the administrations of Batman, Silvan, Lice and Ergani, all of which returned HDP mayors with massive majorities in last year’s municipal elections.

The government has been branded “a virus against democracy” after the clampdown, which the HDP said was a “coup” that endangers public health and the fight against the coronavirus.

As protesters gathered outside government buildings in the captured municipalities, Silvan co-mayor Abbas Azizoglu called on the people “to oppose this lawlessness and to defend their will.”

HDP spokesman Salim Kaplan said that the ruling Justice & Development Party dismissed the HDP’s elected officials and replaced them with trustees in fear of the opposition’s socialist measures to deal with the spread of Covid-19.

These included freezing water bills for the residents of Batman.

“Is the reason for appointing your trustee in Batman municipality the socialist municipal services that will serve as a model for the country against the epidemic? Is that what scares you so much?” he asked.

Mr Kaplan said that the appointment of trustees was “the biggest damage [the government] will make to this country.”

Ergani co-mayor Ahmet Kaya was released from custody today on a judicial control order.

He is accused of membership of a terrorist organisation based on his participation in Kurdish New Year celebrations in 2019 and a condolence message sent in a tweet.

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