The Ministry referenced an ongoing trial and a new investigation involving Mehmet Sıddık Akış, Hakkari co-mayor for the pro-Kurdish DEM Party, accusing him of holding a high-level role in the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Akış was replaced by the city's governor, Ali Çelik.

Officials and supporters of the Peoples' Equality and Democracy Party (DEM Party) told Turkey recap the move evoked the years-long practice of replacing elected officials in southeast Turkey with state-appointed trustees on vague terrorism charges.

DEM Party announced Monday it would organize continuous "nöbet eylemleri", or vigils, in cities where the party won the municipality in the March 31 elections. DEM officials also said protests would be held in other cities to oppose the Ministry's decision and to defend democratic rights.

İsrail Ordusunun Gazze Tümeni Komutanı İstifa Etti İsrail Ordusunun Gazze Tümeni Komutanı İstifa Etti

The chair and members of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) criticized the replacement and sent a committee to Hakkari.

"If we do not act with solidarity and stand together against the trustee system today, our future calls for democracy will be pointless," said Onur Düşünmez, Hakkari MP for DEM Party. "All those who believe in democracy and the rule of law should be with us and respond to this extortion by trustees."

Düşünmez continued, warning Hakkari could be the beginning of a new trustee era and that other mayors could soon be replaced by government officials.

“We believe it’ll spread to other cities depending on the lawlessness of the situation,” Düşünmez told Turkey recap.

Hakkari mayor Akış was in neighboring Van when he was detained in the early morning hours on Monday. His lawyer, Azad Özer, told Turkey recap that no one had notified him or other municipality officials about the detention decision.

“My house has a view of the municipality. From the window, I saw that policemen were smoking around the building around 6 am [Monday], but I haven’t received any formal notification about my client’s situation,” Özer said, speaking Monday afternoon.

Özer added the only information he had at the time was that a new investigation had been launched against Akış. However, he was unable to learn more details due to a confidentiality order on the case.

Third trustee to Hakkari

Hümeyra Armut, Hakkari provincial co-chair for DEM Party, said Akış’ replacement marked the third time a trustee has been appointed to the city’s municipality. Armut, herself, was also replaced by a trustee in 2019 when she was the elected mayor of Hakkari.

“It is an attempt to cancel the will of Kurdish people and erase the collective memory,” Armut told Turkey recap. “Not just Kurdish people, but everyone who believes in democracy should protest this. Hakkari shouldn’t be left alone. The only way to demolish this trustee mentality comes with solidarity.”

In a statement on X, the Interior Ministry cited a previous trial was underway against Akış while the Chief Prosecutor's Office in Hakkari was conducting another investigation. The ministry also listed charges against Akış, including serving as a senior member of the PKK, “collecting taxes” for the group and assisting organization members in various ways.

“The Interior Ministry’s reasoning shows us how they do not respect the presumption of innocence, how unlawful they act,” said Hakkari MP Düşünmez, noting there has yet to be a court ruling against Akış.

Prior to his detention and replacement, Akış was permitted to run for office and won with about 49 percent of the vote. His closest rival, the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) İsmet Ölmez received 46.5 percent of the vote.

“They tried this in Van and saw the resistance of people. Now they are trying it here but we will resist even more and won’t let them do this,” Düşünmez said.

In early April, days after the March 31 local elections, the Van provincial electoral board decided the winning DEM Party mayoral candidate, Abdullah Zeydan, was unfit to govern despite having received 55 percent of the vote.

After the protests gripped Van and many other cities, the country’s High Election Board ruled to reinstate Abdullah Zeydan's eligibility as a candidate a day later. Many in the region believe that Van was the government’s attempt to gauge public sentiments towards another round of state-appointed trustees.

“They made the same mistake in Van and corrected it, but they are trying it again in Hakkari with the same fake accusations,” DEM Party’s Van MP Mahmut Dündar told Turkey recap.

“Two months ago, our people went to the ballot boxes freely and voted for whoever they wanted,” Dündar continued. “Yet we saw today that the trustee mentality still continues, and Kurdish people won’t accept this. We’ll continue our democratic protest in the streets until they return from this mistake.”

Protests and protest bans

Following the Akış decision, the Hakkari governorate announced a 10-day ban on protests and public gatherings starting Monday morning. A heavy police presence continues in the city at the time of publishing on Tuesday afternoon.

After the DEM’s call to the streets, many protests were held around the country Monday, and more are expected in the following days. In İstanbul, Diyarbakır, Van, Siirt and Batman, police forces detained several protest participants though the total number of detentions is currently unavailable.

In the streets of Van, Sinan Ok was among the citizens protesting the removal of Akış Monday evening.

“They appointed a trustee without a ruling and attacked the people’s will. Of course, it creates a rage among the people,” Ok told Turkey recap.

“We won’t accept this unlawful practice and resist it,” he continued. “There were rumors about a ‘normalization’ just weeks ago, but we see that it doesn’t involve Kurds.”

Last month, Pres. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and CHP leader Özgür Özel held a 1.5-hour meeting. The rare occasion was defined as “historical” as the leaders referred to the beginning of a possible “normalization” period in the country’s politics.

“Another historical chance is slipping away since fascism does not accept any compromise,” Hakkari MP Düşünmez said.

“Normalization has no meaning in fascism, which understands only resistance. People resisting fascism always had the last word, and progress is only possible through resistance,” he added.

Kaynak: turkeyrecap.substack