DIYARBAKIR, Turkey: A Turkish court has ordered the detention of the two mayors of Diyarbakir, the largest city in the predominantly Kurdish southeast of the country, accusing them of “terrorist” activities linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Gultan Kisanak and Firat Anli, jointly elected in 2014, were Sunday accused of “belonging to an armed terrorist organization” and providing “logistical support to an armed terrorist organization”, according to a statement by the court in Diyarbakir.
Their detention comes five days after police took them into custody and sparked an outbreak of violence in the southeast.
Ayla Akat Ata, a former lawmaker from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which Kisanak and Anli belong to, was also detained Sunday night.
Separately, Turkish police detained Murat Sabuncu, the editor-in-chief of the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, state media reported Monday, while CNN Turk broadcaster said 13 arrest warrants were issued for the daily’s journalists and executives. Sabuncu was detained while authorities were looking for executive board chairman Akin Atalay and writer Guray Oz, the official news agency Anadolu said. The daily said Oz was already detained but it was not known why police were seeking the daily’s staff.
Tension has risen in the country with multiple arrests and suspensions of local officials accused of links to the PKK, and an official decree Saturday closing down a dozen pro-Kurdish media.
Three policemen were seriously wounded Sunday night in a bomb attack against the offices of the ruling AKP party in Mardin province.
Several hundred people held demonstrations Sunday to demand the release of the mayors in Diyarbakir and in Istanbul.
Speaking to about 500 people gathered near the town hall in Diyarbakir on Sunday, Selahattin Demirtas, co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), accused the authorities of holding the mayors “hostage”.
“All those who do not say ‘Erdogan is our sultan’ are declared ‘terrorists’,” said Demirtas, calling on “democratic forces” to mobilize.
“We will not retreat, whatever the cost,” he added.
Erdogan accuses the HDP and BDP of being linked to the PKK, which is listed as a terror group by Ankara, the European Union and the United States.