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Turkiye reinstates pro-Kurdish Mayor in Van after widespread protests

April 4, 2024 at 6:26 pm

Supporters of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish DEM party celebrate outside their party headquarters after election authorities reinstated a municipal election winner in Van, eastern Turkey, on April 3, 2024. [Photo by REFIK TEKIN/AFP via Getty Images]

Turkiye’s election authority has reinstated the winner of the mayoral elections from a pro-Kurdish party in the eastern city of Van, shortly after initially removing his candidacy.

As a result of the recent municipal elections throughout Turkiye, Abdullah Zeydan, the candidate of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (DEM, won over 55 per cent of the vote in the city of Van, while his rival from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) won 27 per cent of the vote.)

The regional election board had rescinded Zeydan’s victory, however, citing a previous conviction in 2016 over his criticism of the military’s operation against Kurdish militants in Syria, which caused the Turkish justice ministry to reverse his right to stand for election. The mayoral seat was, instead, set to be granted to the defeated AKP candidate.

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Zeydan’s removal was not only protested by the DEM party, but also met with fierce outcry by supporters and civilians throughout the eastern Turkish province for the entirety of last night. According to Interior Minister, Ali Yerlikaya, 89 people were detained as a result for joining unauthorised rallies and allegedly chanting slogans in praise of a “separatist terror organisation”, referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Despite the crackdown, the DEM party announced that the country’s Supreme Election Board (YSK) had decided to reinstate Zeydan as the Mayor of Van. According to the state-run Anadolu Agency, the decision was made after the YSK considered an appeal by the DEM party and the opinions of the majority of the board’s members to reinstate Zeydan.

The Party hailed the board’s decision as “a result of the resistance of the Kurdish people, our friends and the democratic public” in a post on X. “Long live the Kurdish resistance!” it added in Kurdish.

READ: Turkiye to re-run vote in eastern city of Van after opposition candidate wins mayoral seat