Turkey-PKK: Clashes as Turkey removes 28 elected mayors

Turkish policeman stands guard outside a Sur municipality building in Diyarbakir Turkey on 11 September 2016 Image copyright AFP
Image caption The trustees moved into replace the elected mayors early on Sunday

Clashes have broken out in parts of south-eastern Turkey after 28 elected mayors in largely Kurdish towns were removed from office.

They were removed using an emergency law that came into force earlier this month following July's failed coup.

The mayors are being replaced by trustees appointed by the government.

Tens of thousands of people have been purged from government jobs since the coup, accused of links to terrorist organisations.

Some 200 people were dispersed by tear gas and water cannon after gathering outside the city hall in Suruc, the private Dogan news agency reports.

Four people, including a deputy mayor, were detained after a skirmish in Hakkari province, Dogan said.

Some Turkish media reports said that the internet and electricity had been cut off in the affected cities.

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Turkey's Anadolu Agency said that, 24 of the removed mayors are suspected of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Another four are thought to be linked to Fethullah Gulen, the US-based cleric accused by the government of being behind the coup attempt.

"Mayors and town councillors, who come to power through elections, must perform their duties according to the law," Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag wrote on Twitter.

"If [they] finance terrorism by transferring public funds allocated to them to serve the people, and allow the use of municipal vehicles, equipment and capabilities in terrorist activities, they lose their democratic legitimacy."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Author Orhan Pamuk has condemned what he called the "regime of terror"

The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), whose mayors were principally affected, condemned the move as "coup by trustees".

"This unlawful and arbitrary action will only deepen the existing problems in Kurdish towns and cause the Kurdish issue to be even more unsolvable."

Tens of thousands of people have died in a decades-long insurgency by the PKK, who want more self-rule for Kurdish people.

Meanwhile, the Turkish Nobel-winning writer Orhan Pamuk has said Turkey is becoming a "regime of terror".

He was writing in Italy's La Repubblica newspaper in response to the arrest on Saturday of leading journalist Ahmet Altan and his brother Mehmet, a renowned economist.

"In Turkey, we are progressively putting behind bars all people who take the liberty of voicing even the slightest criticism of the government," he wrote.

He said the crackdown was being driven by "the most ferocious hatred".

"Freedom of thought no longer exists. We are distancing ourselves at high speed from a state of law and heading towards a regime of terror."

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