10/26/2016, 09.49
TURKEY - UNITED STATES
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Turkish security forces arrest the two co-mayors of Diyarbakir, the Kurdish "capital"

The two senior officials subjected to pre-trial detention for an investigation related to "terrorism." And armored vehicles have surrounded the town hall, searching the offices. The operation is part of post (failed) coup crackdown. Ankara reiterates its call to the United States for the expatriation Islamic leader Gülen.

 

Istanbul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Turkish security forces arrested the two co-mayors of Diyarbakir, the largest and most important city in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern Turkey. The two senior officials have been subjected to pre-trial detention, in the context of an internal investigation linked to "terrorism". In fact, the arrest is part of the massive campaign of repression launched by the government and the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan against (alleged) perpetrators and supporters of last July’s (failed) coup in Turkey.

Local sources said that yesterday, dozens of police, light armored vehicles and security forces surrounded the town hall and carried out a long search in the municipal offices. Meanwhile a team of agents proceeded with the arrest of Gültan Kisanak while at the airport; his colleague Firat Anli was arrested contemporarily at home.

Both are mayors, with different roles, of the city of the south-east of Turkey considered the "capital" of the predominantly Kurdish area of ​​the country.  The area is home to ongoing fighting between the army and militants in Ankara Workers Party of Kurdistan (PKK), which has caused severe damage including the partial destruction of a historic sixteenth century mosque.

The arrest of two senior local officials is part of the massive campaign of repression promoted by the Turkish authorities, which in little more than three months led to the arrest of 35 thousand people and a total of approximately 82 thousand suspects. During the hectic night of the failed coup between 15 and 16 July 270 people were killed, thousands wounded.

Since then Ankara has launched a campaign of purges against intellectuals personalities, political, military and administrative authorities considered close to the Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, in exile in the United States, who has always denied any involvement in the operations. The crackdown has also involved journalists, media close to the opposition, teachers and administrative staff.

Meanwhile, the Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag yesterday renewed a request to Washington for Gülen's extradition, considered the mastermind behind the coup, and whom Ankara likens to the founder of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. "The failure to extradite" stressed the senior official, about to leave for the United States where he will meet his counterpart Loretta Lynch "will end up having a negative impact on" relations between the two countries.

In Turkey, Gülen has founded a popular movement called "Hizmet" ("service" in Turkish) consisting of a network of schools, non-governmental organizations and businesses rooted and widespread throughout the country. For the government in Ankara this movement is regarded as a "terrorist organization".

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