Van Mayor calls on the UN to follow trustees appointment process

Mayor Ertan was prevented from traveling to Geneva and attending the conference in person.

The AKP's seizure of HDP-run municipalities of Amed (Diyarbakır), Van, Mardin, and Kulp was discussed today at the UN Human Rights Council.

Promoted by the AIDL (International Alliance for the Defense of the Peoples) the conference was attended via video by HDP co-mayor of Van, Bedia Ozgokçe Ertan, who is one of the mayors unlawfully dismissed by the AKP and replaced with a trustees. 

Mayor Ertan was prevented from traveling to Geneva and attending the conference in person because, as she explained in her video message she was “imposed a traveling abroad ban, something which was not even ordered by a court.”

The other speakers were former mayor of Cizre Leyla Imret (now in exile in Germany and the co-chair of the HDP office in Germany) and Ozen Aytac, member of the commission of the Kurdish women’s movement in Switzerland. 

The conference at the UN was particularly important because it touched upon the seizure of the HDP-run municipalities as well as the ongoing embargo in Maxmur refugee camp. 

Mayor Ertan underlined how the “AKP is directly targeting women with the appointment of the trustees”, something not knew as trustees were appointed before. 

“The AKP, through the trustees, has closed the women’s centres opened by the HDP, as well as the shelters for women. It has actually prevented the women’s cooperative to work thus reaffirming that for them the women’s role is in the house.

Yet women and the people have been resisting the dimissal of their democratically and freely elected mayors and indeed since 19 August they have been organising a daily Democracy Vigil outside the municipalities occupied by the trustees."

Mayor Ertan specifically addressed the UN and called on the international body to act and make Turkey respect the Declaration of Human Rights which it is constantly violating. 

Mayor Ertan also explained how the HDP has been promoting and implementing a participative way of governing local municipalities through the people’s assemblies. 

“Our idea of local democracy has been based - said mayor Ertan - on participation, ecology, and liberation practices.”

Mayor Ertan ended her speech by reminding that the UN special repporteur to Turkey report covering many violations, including the right to life and indiscriminate arrests of legally elected representatives. The mayor appealed to the UN to act to facilitate the end of the deadlock over the Kurdish question. Because Turkey continued to be governed by an increasingly totalitarian regime which is continuing to violate rights. “The UN should know that if they and the other international institutions continue to keep silence in front of this authoritarian regime which is constantly violating rights, they would actually allow Turkey to contravene the Conventions it signed.”

Mayor Ertan said: “We expect the UN and the other international bodies closely follow the process of dismissal of the mayors based on lies. The UN should set up a mechanism investigating all violations carried out during this process. This is what we expect in the name of law and protection of human rights.”

Former mayor of Cizre, Leyla Imret, recalled the siege of her city in 2015 and the violence unleashed by the AKP government against the people there. She was forced to flee her city. 

Leyla Imret reminded of the openly anti-women policies and decisions implemented by trustees, such as the closure of dozens of women’s centres and shelters for women as well as the direct attack on the will of women and the people. She also reminded that every day in Turkey women are being murdered by men, often their partners. 

She also reminded that the appointment of trustees by the AKP regime has actually been justified as a tool “to get rid of the co-presidency system which is feared by the government because it devolves real decision and participation power to the people.”