Solidarity with Jailed Kurdish Mayors and Councillors

Monday 26th February, 18:00-21:00 hrs

Committee Room 2, City Hall, London SE1 2AA


  • Julie Ward MEP, North West England
  • Jennette Arnold OBE AM, London Assembly member for North East London
  • Margaret Owen OBE, human rights lawyer who has attended many trials of Kurdish politicians
  • Representative from the HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party)
  • John Hunt, journalist, attended recent trial of Diyarbakir co-mayor Gultan Kisanak
  • Unmesh Desai, London Assembly member
  • Cllr Ayfer Orhan, London Borough of Enfield

More than 100 elected mayors have been imprisoned in the mainly Kurdish south-east of Turkey. It’s part of an attack on the rights of local people, in a region of more than 6 million, to democratically control their local authorities: a right enshrined in the European Charter of Local Self-Government, to which Turkey is a signatory. This usurpation of democracy was not even approved by the Turkish Parliament. Instead President Erdogan used emergency powers to issue Decree No 674, amounting to a de-facto annulment of the 2014 local elections:

  • In each of 94 municipalities (out of 103 in the region), the powers of the mayor, municipal assembly and municipal board have been taken over by a state-appointed “trustee”.
  • 106 Kurdish co-mayors have been arrested, along with thousands of councillors.
  • The powers of elected councils have been suspended; city councils are not allowed to meet.
  • Tens of thousands of municipal employees have been sacked.
  • All women’s departments and facilities have been closed in the trustee-governed municipalities

Many of the detained mayors face very long jail sentences – for example, prosecutors have demanded 230 years imprisonment for Gultan Kisanak, co-mayor of the city of Dyarbakir and an outstanding champion of women’s rights in Turkey. “Without local democracy, there can be no democracy”, she says.

These attacks, along with the arrests of HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) MPs, reflect the repressive trajectory of the Turkish state which has devastated the mainly Kurdish region since the end of the peace process in 2015.



This meeting will discuss how to respond to the urgent call for help by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey and its sister party the Democratic Regions Party (DBP). We want to launch a national campaign of solidarity involving mayors, councillors, Assembly Members of all UK parties and others. By supporting our Kurdish sisters and brothers we can also learn from their inspiring initiatives, in difficult conditions, to develop local democracy and inclusion.


3 Responses to Solidarity with Jailed Kurdish Mayors and Councillors
  1. Bohuslav Vorel
    February 25, 2018 | 19:02

    I am ashamed of Salih Moslem’s seizing in Prague.

    Erdogan sometimes wants from West countries the clear answer of the question whether PYD/YPG are according them heroes or terrorists. Now our government is managed to give such an answer. The extradition would be spitting into our own face.

    Biji Rojava !

    • Michael McGinn
      February 26, 2018 | 07:30

      Well said It is similar to the UK authorities prosecuting the brave volunteers who joined the YPJ YPG to fight ISIS. Utterly shameful.

  2. Tsuneo Kori
    February 26, 2018 | 13:07

    What we are seeing in Kurdistan is the conflict between Human Liberation movement and fascist anti-human liberation power. We have seen the same conflict in Spanish civil war and the military coup against Chili socialist government. Western capitalist democrats never support any human liberation movement. They silently supported Franco dictatorship and Chili military junta but not any republican government. They have listed PKK liberation movement as terrorist and now support Fascist Islamist Turkey government and abandon Kurdish freedom movement. Are they going to watch another holocaust on Kurdish people? Since Western democrats do not want any liberal movement and prefer fascist dictatorship or corrupted government, Kurdish Liberation Movement will be a real human liberation movement. How can we support the human liberation movement?

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