Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday defended his government’s decision to remove three pro-Kurdish mayors from office and accused them of serving “terrorists”, in comments published in the official Anadolu news agency.
The mayors of Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van provinces in eastern Turkey — all members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) elected in March — were suspended on Monday over alleged ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The dismissals sparked protests including in the Kurdish majority Diyarbakir city where police fired water cannons at demonstrators this week.
“Whoever is in hand in hand with terror, we will protect the authority given by the people within the boundaries of law till the very end,” Erdogan was quoted as saying in the capital Ankara.
He also said if the mayors “serve the terrorists instead of the people … we will kick them out.”
In all three cities, government-appointed governors took over the municipal administrations.
Erdogan’s government accuses the HDP party of links to the PKK, which has waged a bloody insurgency against the state since 1984.
But the party denies any links to the PKK, which is listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.
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