Rebuffing public criticism sparked by a government decision to remove elected Kurdish mayors suspected of having links to militants, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Sunday said his government will continue its policy of appointing administrators to Kurdish-run municipalities.
Speaking to the Hurriyet daily over the weekend, Yildirim said the government will not stop by appointing administrators to only 28 municipalities in the Southeast.
“There will be more. When you give taxpayer money to a terrorist organization that kills our soldiers and police, then we intervene. Should we just let it happen?” the prime minister said.
His remarks reflect the government’s longstanding suspicion about suspected links between the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been fighting the Turkish state for autonomy in Turkey’s Southeast for four decades.
Turkey has designated the PKK as a terrorist organization.
While the HDP says it shares a base with the PKK, it denies any link to the terrorist group.
The HDP also declines to call PKK a terrorist organization but says it defines as terrorism its violent acts that target civilians and calls on both the Turkish military and PKK militants to cease fighting to allow civilian politics to solve the Kurdish question.
Yildirim accused HDP municipalities of aiding and abetting the PKK through the use of state funds for the PKK’s aims in cities.
The prime minister defended the government action, saying that authorities detected substantial links between the PKK and many municipalities whose administrations were taken over by the government.
When the PKK launched an urban war against the police and military in cities, digging trenches and barricades in certain neighborhoods in several towns and cities in summer 2015, the government at the time slammed HDP municipalities for helping the PKK take hold in cities through the use of materials that are at the disposal of municipalities.
The PKK set up booby traps in Diyarbakir’s Sur and Sirnak’s Cizre districts and placed snipers in neighborhoods that were defended by its urban youth branch.