Turkish authorities have temporarily suspended the democratically elected mayors of Diyarbakir, Van and Mardin in south-east Turkey while hundreds of people have been detained as part of a major terrorism-related investigation.
The replacement of Selçuk Mızraklı, Bedia Özgökçe Ertan and Ahmet Türk by state governors is of serious concern as it puts the respect of the democratic outcomes of the 31 March elections into question. Dismissals and detentions of local politicians and appointment of trustees deprive voters of political representation at local level, and seriously risk damaging local democracy.
While the Turkish government has a legitimate right to fight terrorism, it is also responsible for ensuring this is done in accordance with the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in its Constitution and Turkey’s international commitments and not for political reasons applying broad anti-terror or criminal legislation. Turkey has to repeal measures inhibiting the functioning of local democracy, in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission and with Turkey’s commitment to the European Charter of Local Self-Government.
While the EU has unambiguously and repeatedly condemned violent terrorist attacks in Turkey and expressed solidarity with the families of the victims, it also reiterates its call for the urgent resumption of a credible political process to achieve a peaceful and sustainable solution.