10/19/2019, 08.00
TURKEY - SYRIA
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Erdogan’s offensive in Syria halts, domestic repression against Kurds and dissidents continues

At least five mayors in south-eastern Turkey are under arrest. Semire Nergiz and Ferhat Kut are accused of membership in a terrorist organisation. Remziye Yasar and Irfan Sari were taken into custody for articles and interviews. Twenty-four social media users have also been arrested. In two weeks, 186 Internet used have been detained.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) – The Turkish government accepted a US proposal for a five-day truce in its offensive against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), but has not stopped its domestic crackdown against those who dissent and oppose the policies of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

As part of this campaign, Turkish authorities arrested and replaced at least five mayors in some towns in the predominantly Kurdish south-east of the country. They have also taken into custody scores of Internet and social media users, accusing them of a "smear campaign" against the military.

The officials arrested in Hakkari, Yuksekova and Nusaybin belong to the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). They were taken into custody on Thursday to stand trial.

Two co-mayors in Ercis district were also detained earlier in the week and are currently in custody, waiting for a court decision.

In the cities that it runs, the HDP typically appoints one male and one female co-mayor to promote gender equality.

Semire Nergiz and Ferhat Kut, co-mayors of Nusaybin, were accused of being members of a terrorist organisation and replaced by a state-appointed trustee.

Yuksekova co-mayors Remziye Yasar and Irfan Sari were jailed for their interviews, columns and social media posts. It is not immediately clear why Hakkari mayor Cihan Kahraman was detained.

Nusaybin is a town on the Syrian border in the south-eastern Mardin province, whilst Hakkari and Yuksekova are situated on the border with Iran.

The HDP is the only Turkish political party to have openly criticised Ankara’s cross-border offensive against the YGP, describing it as an “invasion attempt”. The other parties and, including those in the opposition, back Erdogan’s military campaign.

Since the start of anti-Kurdish offensive on 9 October, cyber units under Turkey’s Interior Ministry have been conducting online patrolling to identify social media posts that would consider criminal activity.

Turkish security forces have thus arrested 24 social media users for conducting a "smear campaign" against the military, the official Anadolu agency reported.

A total of 186 users have been detained thus far, the agency added, noting that 40 were released pending trial, whilst 124 were still in police custody.

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