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News > World

Kurdish Co-Mayor Sacked over Claims of Direct Democracy

  • Sirnak, a province that has seen a surge of violence during the election season, also saw its politicians detained.

    Sirnak, a province that has seen a surge of violence during the election season, also saw its politicians detained. | Photo: Reuters

Published 29 October 2015

Diba Keskin is among dozens of Kurdish politicians awaiting trial for allegedly pursuing autonomy.

The co-mayor of a district in the Kurdish city of Van in Turkey was deposed Wednesday over accusations she had been "performing acts aimed at undermining the state's independence and unity."

A member of the left-wing HDP, which elects both a man and woman to every leadership position, Diba Keskin was investigated for advocating self-rule in a press release after the Ankara terrorist bombing.

In August, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, called for Kurdish cities to declare "people's assemblies" that would not recognize state institutions. The assemblies allow members of the public to exercise direct control over local affairs and to recall elected officials at any time.

While the HDP is not affiliated with the PKK directly, it is a pro-Kurd party. Keskin explains why she took the measure:

"The council, which represents the will of our village, our neighborhood and our town, has decided that we will rule ourselves," said Keskin. "We experience more and more massacres, and we reject the police force that legitimizes violence under the name of state institutions and state security."

RELATED: A History of the Turkish-Kurdish Conflict

Seven other Kurdish politicians were detained in August for similar charges and two co-mayors were removed from office. Eight face trail and possible life sentences with no chance of parole.

On Oct. 15, the two co-mayors of Batman and 20 other local politicians were suspended and are currently being investigated.

Keskin has been a representative of various outlawed Kurdish parties since 2011, where she established a reputation for demanding transparency and fighting against corruption.

"Our own administration will show that we can live as a free society, with a will for democracy and without the need for state institutions or state pressure," she told Haber Gazete. "I have no doubt that [friends in other municipalities] will keep working on populist policy."

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