I am writing this letter to you as the Mayor of Diyarbakır, who was elected on the local elections in March 31, 2019 with 62.9% of the votes; however dismissed on August 19, replaced with an appointed trustee; and finally arrested on October 22, 2019.
One of Turkey’s trustee appointed 95 HDP municipalities as of 2016; we got back Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality on 31 March 2019 local elections and started to build up the local democracy once again. However, only 4 months later the central government have appointed a trustee once again and unlawfully seized the local administrations of Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van provinces that it could not succeed to gain through elections. This coup, which was addressed to local democracy on 19 August 2019, has been directly against Kurds’ right to vote and to be elected, contrary to the perception of ‘terror’ that the AKP government tries to create in public opinion. The seizure of local people’ will was not a reasoned decision of law, but a clear statement that the Kurds cannot elect the people who will rule the cities in which they live.
This repression policy, imposed only because of our Kurdish identity brings with it an enormous legal freak. The AKP government, which violates Article 127 of the Constitution, which binds the dismissal of mayors to offenses only related to their duties, dismissed us for prosecutions and investigations that were not related with our duty and based on the unlawful amendments made on the Law on Municipalities nr. 5393 through a government decree during the State of Emergency (OHAL) process. In fact, the trustee assignment letters were already prepared only one day after the elections, on April 1, 2019, when we even didn’t receive our election certificates.
Turkey is going through a massacre of the judiciary. Presumption of innocence has long been an exception. For instance, one of the reasons why I was arrested on 22 October 2019 is a fiction statement given on March 20, 2019 (just 11 days before the local elections), by a confessor named H.B.A., who was arrested in May 2016 in Nusaybin district of Mardin. Although H.B.A. was under arrest during 3 years, she made a confession on 20 March 2019 in order to benefit from the remorse law by claiming that I operated a ‘member of an illegal organisation’ in a night shift, cut off his intestines and discharged him in the same morning in the hospital where I worked as a surgeon. Aside from the lack of such an event, the person named HBA claims to have heard about it from a ‘friend’. Therefore, neither such a surgery nor a witness is existed. Again, as I did not have a night shift as a surgeon at the mentioned dates, as a doctor of almost 40 years, I would say that it is against medicine to have a critical surgery such as cutting the intestines at night and discharge the patient on the morning or let him to leave the hospital on foot. The person named H.B.A., who made it clear that she made confessions over a sensation and rumour, was released from the prison in September 2019 thanks to this ‘confession’ she made while being tried in heavy life imprisonment. The confession given by the same person in 2017 on two other people claiming that they are members of an illegal organization was rejected by another court as
‘disreputable’. However, the false statements of that person are accepted as evidences for the political personalities like us.
Another reason for my arrest is my participation in the activities of the political party HDP that I am a member of HDP is the third largest party in Turkey with 6 million voters and it cannot be a crime to participate in the activities of a political party. On June 24, 2018, I was elected as a member of parliament from the HDP. In 2019, I left the seat of parliament after my election as Mayor of Diyarbakir. However, the investigations initiated against me during my term as a deputy have been put forward as a reason for my removal from the mayor’s office. Neither the political party activities of a deputy who has the parliamentary immunity, nor a political party employee or an ordinary citizen can be regarded as a crime in any country that defines itself as democratic, except Turkey!
The investigation files of the other co-mayors, who have been suspended and replaced with the trustees, also include baseless allegations. Even the participation in the press statements, which are the simplest party activities, has been considered as a crime and ground for detention. The false news published in the pro-government press which targets us are used as ‘evidence’ in the case files. All kinds of disinformation are considered legitimate in order to legitimize the trustee appointments in public. As of 19 August 2019, the AKP government’s ministry of interior have appointed trustees to 15 HDP municipalities (Diyarbakır, Van, Mardin, Kulp, Karayazı, Nusaybin, Hakkari, Yüksekova, Kocaköy, Kayapınar, Bismil, Erciş, Cizre, Saray, Kızıltepe) and 12 municipal co-mayors of these municipalities have been imprisoned.
I am one of my numerous comrades and political prisoners who have been imprisoned during this process that the presumption of innocence is violated. When I was arrested, I was left in a solitary cell for the first three days. Then I was sent to Kayseri prison, which is far away from my family, with the women co-mayors of Kayapınar and Kocaköy municipalities who were arrested on the same day as me. Prisons are torture places without rights and law. The political prisoners here are under heavy pressure. I know that we will be deprived of even the most innocent human rights in these places where there are intense violations of rights. Justice does not go beyond being a word that adorns the walls of the courts in this country. The entire justice system is in the service of a single political party.
As an elected mayor and politician in a prison, I call international public opinion, rights organizations and democratic dynamics to take concrete steps against the seizure of the election rights of Kurds in Turkey, to raise their voices to remove the pressure on opponent political parties and movements, and, to struggle for the establishment of justice.
Dr. Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı
Mayor of Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality
4 November 2019.
Bünyan Prison, Kayseri, Turkey