Friday, September 9, 2016
Ankara is taking over the administration of 28 municipalities whose mayors have been accused of links to the Kurdish militant group. The arrests are part of President Erdogan's "largest operation" against the rebels.
"Under the authority provided by the decree with the force of law, within 15 days, the administration of 28 municipalities will no longer be with the terrorists," Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Friday, adding that no orders would be taken from "Qandil" any more.
Qandil is a mountain in Iraq's north and the capital of the militant Kurdish Workers' Party or the PKK, which has been branded a terror organization by Ankara as well as the European Union and United States.
Turkish officials also suspended 1,151 teachers in the Kurdish eastern provinces of Tunceli and Van. Several hundreds gathered in Tunceli and Diyarbakir city to protest the dismissals, shouting slogans like "shoulder to shoulder against fascism." Police dispersed them using water cannons.
"This is an attack on our unionized struggle," Suleyman Guler, the provincial head of the education union, Egitim-Sen, told reporters, adding that he too was suspended from work. "It is not possible to accept this decision. There is neither a crime here nor a criminal. We call for the immediate halt of this move."
The latest dismissals came a day after Ankara suspended 11,285 educators for alleged links with the PKK, considered a terror organization by Turkey.
The operations are part of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calls his latest offensive to weed out PKK militants. The organization has been waging a war since 1974, when it took up arms to fight for an independent Kurdish state in Turkey's east and south.
Erdogan's anti-PKK offensive comes amid his government's crackdown on alleged supporters of the Gulen movement, suspected of organizing the failed coup on July 15.
Nearly 40,000 people, including teachers, journalists, soldiers, businessmen and lawyers, have been arrested in Turkey for suspected links to Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric accused of masterminding the putsch. Tens of thousands of government employees have been suspended from their jobs.