Ankara slammed over sacking of mayors

Ekrem Imamoglu (R), the new Mayor of Istanbul from Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) walks with the removed mayor of Diyarbakir, Adnan Selcuk Mizrakli during his visit on August 31, 2019, in Diyarbakir. (AFP)
Updated 31 August 2019

Ankara slammed over sacking of mayors

  • Imamoglu’s visit was the latest sign of warming relations between the CHP and HDP

DIYARBAKIR/TURKEY: Istanbul’s mayor on Saturday hit out at the Turkish government’s ouster of three pro-Kurdish municipality chiefs during a visit to the city of Diyarbakir.

Ekrem Imamoglu of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), who won in the June rerun of the Istanbul vote, called Ankara’s move an act of “carelessness.”

Imamoglu’s visit was the latest sign of warming relations between the CHP and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

The mayors of the eastern cities of Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van — all HDP members elected in March — were sacked on Aug. 19 over suspected links to Kurdish militants.

Adnan Selcuk Mizrakli was Diyarbakir mayor before he was replaced by a government-appointed governor.

“There can be neither democracy nor rule of law in a place where elected officials do not leave via the ballot box,” Imamoglu told reporters in Diyarbakir.

He had met with ousted Mardin mayor, Ahmet Turk — a key figure in the Kurdish movement — and Mizrakli, who said Imamoglu’s visit offered “a glimmer of hope and was a source of strength for us.”

His visit to the Kurdish-majority region is significant for the secular CHP, which has not always had easy relations with the HDP.

But since Imamoglu’s election success was significantly supported by the votes of Kurds, as the HDP put forward no candidate in Istanbul, this relationship has improved.

The Istanbul mayor also paid tribute to Tahir Elci, head of the bar association in Diyarbakir and a campaigner for Kurdish rights, during a visit to his grave.

Elci was shot dead during clashes between Kurdish militants and police officers in 2015.

Last May, the CHP’s presidential candidate Muharrem Ince visited the imprisoned ex-HDP chief Selahattin Demirtas ahead of presidential elections in June 2018.


Protesters regain control of third bridge in Baghdad

Updated 17 November 2019

Protesters regain control of third bridge in Baghdad

  • Security forces used tear gas and stun bombs to prevent protesters from getting right across Ahrar Bridge in central Baghdad
  • More than 300 people have been killed since the start of mass unrest in Baghdad

BAGHDAD: Iraqi protesters regained control of a third bridge leading to Baghdad’s Green Zone on Sunday, taking further ground in the biggest wave of anti-government demonstrations in decades.
Security forces used tear gas and stun bombs to prevent protesters from getting right across Ahrar Bridge in central Baghdad, part of a weeks-long attempt to disrupt traffic and reach the Green Zone housing government ministry and embassies.
Protesters made a barricade of old cabinets, trash cans and metal sheeting on the bridge while security forces took positions behind blast walls installed to prevent protesters from crossing to the other side. Protesters who choked on the tear gas were evacuated by tuk-tuk, a Reuters cameraman said.
On Saturday, Iraqi demonstrators reoccupied part of adjacent Sinak Bridge and a nearby tall building in Baghdad that security forces had pushed them away from a week before. They have held a third bridge, Jamhuriya, since October 25.
More than 300 people have been killed since the start of mass unrest in Baghdad and southern Iraq in early October, the largest demonstrations since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Protesters are demanding the overthrow of a political class seen as corrupt and beholden to foreign interests.
In Basra in the south, dozens of protesters burned tires and briefly blocked some roads on Sunday, before police managed to restore control and reopen them, police said.
The unrest has shattered the relative calm that followed the defeat of Islamic State in 2017.