Human Rights Watch criticizes Turkish arbitrary measures against Bakur municipalities

The control of municipalities in Bakur (north Kurdistan) by the Turkish authorities is a flagrant violation of voters' rights and a suspension of local democracy, Human Rights Watch said.

"The government of President Erdogan canceled the results of the March local elections in the three main cities in the Kurdish regions by isolating the legitimate elected mayors," said Hugh Williamson, the organization's director for Europe and Central Asia.

Discredit of legitimate mayors by claiming that they have vague links to terrorism to deprive the Kurdish population of their chosen representatives endangers anyone who is committed to democratic elections, human rights and the rule of law in Turkey."

The municipalities of Amed, Mardin and Wan were seized by the Turkish authorities.

Human Rights Watch called on the Turkish government to reverse its decision and allow all isolated people to return to their jobs immediately.

Human Rights Watch confirmed that arbitrary prosecutions and investigations under the pretext of vague terrorism crimes are widely used in Turkey to silence government critics, journalists, human rights defenders and opposition politicians through arbitrary arrests.

Human Rights Watch stressed that the behavior of the Erdogan government against democratically elected officials violated Turkey's obligations under international and regional human rights law. These steps violate the right to political participation, the right to free elections, and the right to freedom of expression under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.

In a related context, the European Court of Human Rights strongly criticized Turkey's actions by the Turkish government in the pursuit of elected mayors on baseless charges of terrorism.

The European Court said the arrest of the former co-chair of the Democratic Peoples' Party, Selahattin Demirtaş, was an example of Turkish arbitrary detention without legal grounds.



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