Human Rights Commissioner Kofler on the ongoing removal of elected mayors in south-eastern Turkey
Against the backdrop of the ongoing ousting and removal from office of democratically elected mayors in Turkey, Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement:
Respect for democratic election results is a prerequisite for a working democracy. I therefore view the removal and arrest of elected mayors in Turkey with grave concern. The Turkish Government has a responsibility to comply with rule-of-law and human rights principles in accordance with its international obligations. If opportunities for democratic participation are curtailed, there is a danger that radical movements will ultimately benefit.
Since August 2019, there have been repeated instances of mayors who were democratically elected in the Turkish municipal elections on 31 March 2019 being ousted or removed from office. Currently, 13 municipalities in south-eastern Turkey are under forced administration. Other election winners were refused their appointment papers in April by the High Election Board. Some of the mandate holders are in prison.
The mayors of the province capitals Diyarbakır, Mardin and Van were ousted on 19 August 2019. Since then, the mayors of the following municipalities have also been removed: Bismil, Cizre, Erciş, Hakkâri, Karayazı, Kayapınar, Kocaköy, Kulp, Nusaybin, Yüksekova. The accusation of support for terrorist organisations is being used to justify the removals from office.