F-4 Phantoms fly over Turkey’s southeast as ousted pro-Kurdish mayor is restored

F-4 Phantoms fly over Turkey’s southeast as ousted pro-Kurdish mayor is restored

Date:

Ousted Mayor Restored:

Following demonstrations and widespread unrest in Turkey’s southeastern Kurdish-majority cities and provinces, the deposed mayor-elect of the city of Van has now been reinstated.

Having won the mayorship with a clear majority of about 125,400 votes, Abdullah Zeydan, mayoral candidate of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party in the city of Van, was denied his electoral victory with a last-minute disqualification.

Abdullah Arvas, the runner-up candidate of President Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development (AKP) Party was subsequently handed the mandate in what the DEM Party saw as a “coup” and usurpation of the popular will:

The decision provoked fierce protests and growing violence as security forces clashed with DEM supporters across the country, from western Turkey to the southeastern provinces of Turkish Kurdistan.

On April 4, footage from the city of Batman showed an F-4 Phantom fighter jet of the Turkish Air Force performing a low fly-by over the Kurdish-majority city in an attempt to intimidate the local populace and deter demonstrations:

A total of 340 individuals across 14 provinces had been detained by Thursday, charged with attacking security forces and shouting “slogans” supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a designated terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the EU:

On Wednesday, upon Zeydan’s official reinstatement and receipt of his mayoral license at the city’s courthouse, the now-mayor of Van addressed the press:

“We went through a process in which law and justice were suspended for a short period of time. We would like to thank everyone who took a stand in favor of democracy, law, and justice, especially the people of Van who embraced their will. The YSK’s (Supreme Election Council) decision has further strengthened the will for the rule of law, the establishment of justice, social peace, and a life of togetherness and dignity in our country.”

“Our geography no longer needs conflict and lawlessness. We all have a responsibility to establish social peace and a dignified life together.”

President Erdogan addressed the issue, speaking at an iftar, the fast-breaking meal eaten by Muslims at sunset during Ramadan, with police, gendarmerie and coast guard personnel:

“We do not disrespect the will and appreciation of the people in any way, but we will not and cannot allow the terrorist barons in Qandil to harass our citizens with oppression under different masks, to attack the peace and tranquillity of our cities, to lend the nation’s means to the terrorists in the mountains, and to make our people relive the pains of the past.”

“Just as we do not tolerate bandits in the mountains, we will not tolerate city bandits who regard themselves as superior to the state and the law,” he added, likening the demonstrators to members of the PKK.

SO WHAT?

It is not the first time that the Kurdish minority’s popular will has fallen prey to political machinations designed to secure the AKP’s hegemony over the provinces of Turkish Kurdistan. The failed 2016 coup against then-Prime Minister Erdogan was followed by a “softer” but yet successful takeover of at least 48 mayoral seats from the candidates of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the predecessor of the DEM Party, in the 2019 local elections.

The decision to proceed with such widespread disqualifications was made by the Supreme Election Council (YSK) after Erdogan had accused the HDP of ties with the PKK terrorist organisation which the former strongly denied. As a result, 48 AKP-approved trustees were appointed in their place in a move condemned by the EU’s External Action Service and Parliament.

Konstantinos K
Konstantinos Khttps://substack.com/@polity21hq
Konstantinos is postgraduate student, researcher and founder of Polity21. He writes primarily on Greek-Turkish relations, conflict and power politics in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. Academic and journalistic interests also include among others Astropolitics, Remote Warfare and U.S. Grand Strategy.
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