Court orders release of HDP Kars co-mayor Şevin Alaca

The deposed co-mayor of Kars, Şevin Alaca, has been sentenced to almost seven years in prison for alleged membership of an illegal organisation. The court ordered her release from prison.

HDP politician Şevin Alaca has been sentenced to almost seven years in prison in Turkey for “membership in an armed terrorist organization”. At the same time, the court in Kars ordered her release from prison. Alaca had been in custody for six months. In early October, at the instigation of the Interior Ministry, she was deposed from her position as co-mayor of the city of Kars while she was in police custody. Instead of Alaca and and co-chair Ayhan Bilgen, the provincial governor of Kars was appointed administrator of the city.

Criminalization of democratic local politics

In court, Şevin Alaca dismissed all allegations against her. In her defense, she declared that she had administered the city in accordance with the HDP party statutes. All of the criminalized activities were actually legal political involvement, the politician said. Her defense lawyers also stated that the allegations against her client were in fact related to her activities as mayor and called for acquittal.

Accused of strengthening the women's economy, panel on patriarchal violence

The 100-page indictment against Alaca basically incriminated local politics for women. Activities such as participating in rallies on the occasion of Women's Struggle Day on 8 March, meetings of the Free Women's Movement TJA, or an online event on the rise of patriarchal violence during the coronavirus pandemic have been interpreted as "acts for a terrorist organization".

Next hearing

The court eventually ruled to release Alaca and set the next hearing for 10 June. Kars Municipality co-mayor Şevin Alaca, was arrested on 8 October 2020 together with Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Provincial co-chair Cengiz Anlı, HDP executives Izzet Altı, Mustafa Yardımcıel, Reis Baykız and Kaya Naki.