Call for the Restitution and Respect of Human rights and Democracy in Turkey
The Habitat International Coalition calls for the immediate release of the co-mayors of Diyarbakır, Gültan Kişanak and Firat Anlı, and of all detained and prosecuted public and civil agents, and demands that the Turkish authorities respect, protect and fulfill human rights and restore democracy in Turkey.
Since 2015, a total of 74 mayors of the Kurdish region of southeast Turkey have been arrested, 15 of them after the declaration of the State of Emergency at the end of July 2016; a total of 33 mayors are still under arrest and 46 have been dismissed of their office and replaced by the Turkish central government with “trustees” without the involvement of democratically elected local councils or new local elections.
Mrs. Gültan Kişanak, from the third-largest party in the Turkish parliament, the Peoples` Democratic Party (HDP), is the first female Mayor of Diyarbakır Metropolitan City, which is considered the Kurdish cultural capital in southestern Turkey. Mrs. Kişanak was arrested last 25 October, allegedly for membership terrorist and making terrorist propaganda, after participating to the 5th United Cities and Local Governments World Congress (Bogotá, 12–15 October) and the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, Habitat III (Quito, 17–20 October). During both events, the mayor had the opportunity to expose the alarming situation of Diyarbakır Metropolitan City and southeast region after the Turkish military operations that followed the cease-fire between Turkish government and the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) broke in July 2015.
Concerning the historical center of the metropolitan city of Diyarbakır alone, the armed conflict has displaced more than 23,000 inhabitants, and 27,000 residents face forced evictions under means of a ministerial decree, while demolitions of heritage buildings and confinement of certain areas are still ongoing. While attending both international events, Mrs. Kişanak denounced the practices from the Turkish government contravening international human rights law principles and practices in Diyarbakır and other cities in the region.
The Turkish authorities arrested the co-mayors of Diyarbakır a few days after Turkey adopted a UN conference’s “New Urban Agenda,” which advocates political decentralization and pledges respect of culture, diversity and equality as key elements in the humanization of human settlements. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Council of Europe (CoE), the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and numerous international and regional entities have expressed their concern over Gültan Kişanak and Firat Anlı’s arrest and urgently call for the return of local democracy in Turkey. Moreover, the CoE’s Human Rights Commissioner issued a memorandum calling the Turkish authorities to protect democracy, human rights and the rule of law, including the use of due process and a reasoned, rational approach.
The Habitat International Coalition (HIC) joins these concerns and expresses its solidarity and support to the detained and prosecuted mayors, public servants and political and civil entities that struggle for peace, democracy and human rights. HIC reminds the Turkish authorities of their human rights obligations and commitments, among them the Istanbul Declaration and the Habitat Agenda (Habitat II, 1996), which recognizes local authorities as national government’s closest partners in implementing those same obligations and commitments. HIC calls on Turkish authorities to put an immediate end to the excesses of the State of Emergency and to the resulting human rights violations.
For more information:
Habitat International Coalition–Housing and Land Rights Network: Forced Eviction and Urban Transformation as Tools of War: The case of Diyarbakır, Turkey
Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality: Report on Detaırinment of Gültan Kişanak and Firat Anlı, Co-Mayors of Diyarbakır
Union of Southeastern Anatolia Region Municipalities: Report on Local Governments and Appointment of Trustees to Municipalities