Imprisoned Kurdish politician speaks out from prison three years after the "19 August coup"
Imprisoned Kurdish politician Selcuk Mizrakli said that the Turkish administration's practice of removing elected Kurdish mayors, which amounted to disenfranchising Kurdish voters in local elections, is a long term policy and is doomed to fail.
Replying to the questions of Mezopotamya News Agency on the anniversary of the "19 August coup" that resulted in the removal of elected officials in most of the Kurdish-majority provinces and districts, Mizrakli said that he was confident local democracy will be restored in the coming elections "with a finger touch."
Asked to make an assessment of the Turkish administration's policy of removing elected Kurdish mayors to replace them with appointed trustees, which began to be implemented allegedly after a 10-hour meeting of the National Security Council in October 2014, Mizrakli said:
"If we had a time machine and we could travel in time back to 2014, 99 percent of the people in Turkey would want to do so. The following period is full of nightmares and a series of dramatic and tragicomic incidents. Almost everyone somehow got hurt , suffered losses, tumbled down in the course of these years. A small privileged minority has been created and nourished. The policies led to grave, damaging, acute problems. The whole country went through a 8 magnitude earthquake. The earthquake impacted even neighboring peoples. It caused not only material damage, but also a destruction on moral values, a humane and social destruction that will require a lot of effort to compensate."
Asked how he would define the situation of a local administration being run by a trustee, Mizrakli said:
"It is like enforcing dialysis on people with perfectly functioning healthy kidneys and messing up with their health. It has constituted a part of the shock doctrine. The objective was to discredit the political representatives of the people and to break the political will and resistance of both the representatives and the people."
"The coup by the appointment of trustees was not momentary; it was a program designed for the long run. They had recognized that local governments could bring people together, solve previously unsolved problems, improve local democracy, liberate identities and beliefs, enhance women's participation and representation. They just wanted to tear this down."
Asked whether he thought the political administration could actually achieve something through its policy of disabling functions of local democracy, Mizrakli said:
"We have enough experience and accumulation to revive and restore local governments that have been turned into soulless buildings. We will do this with a finger touch in the elections. We will swiftly restore everything."
About Selcuk Mizrakli
A medical doctor and a former deputy in the Turkish Grand Assembly, Selcuk Mizrakli was elected mayor in the 2019 elections with 63 percent of the vote in Diyarbakır, one of the two largest metropolitan centers in Southeastern Turkey, with a population of over 1.7 million.
After being replaced with a government appointed trustee in August like his predecessor Gultan Kisanak , he was arrested in October on the spurious charge of being a "member of a terrorist organization."
Mizrakki is currently incarcerated in Edirne prison and is the cellmate of Selahattin Demirtas, the former co-chair of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).
Mayors of 54 of the 65 local governments in control of the HDP have been replaced with appointed trustees in the process that began on 19 August 2019.