COPENHAGEN, 30 August 2019 – Reiterating the concerns raised this week by OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir regarding the recent detentions of several journalists who were covering protests in Turkey over the removal of Turkish mayors from their elected positions, leaders of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s human rights committee stressed that the dismissal of these mayors violates the rights of voters and elected candidates.
On 19 August 2019, 418 individuals were detained by Turkish police over their alleged tied to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The PKK is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, as well as several other states. Among the suspects arrested were the mayors of Mardin, Van and Diyarbakir.
Following these arrests, which are the latest in a series of crackdowns against pro-Kurdish affiliated groups in Turkey, the officers of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Kyriakos Hadjiyianni (MP, Cyprus), Vice-Chair Michael Georg Link (MP, Germany), and Rapporteur Susana Amador (MP, Portugal) issued the following statement:
“The repeated detentions and harassment of political opponents in Turkey must stop. Overturning the voters will, which was expressed in the recent local elections in March, is unacceptable and we call upon authorities to reconsider this practice.”
They added: “Turkey continuously has to deal with very serious security concerns, yet they should not be misused by authorities to harass the political opposition.”
The officers noted that in the OSCE’s 1990 Copenhagen Document all participating States, including Turkey, agreed to “ensure that candidates who obtain the necessary number of votes required by law are duly installed in office and are permitted to remain in office until their term expires or is otherwise brought to an end in a manner that is regulated by law in conformity with democratic parliamentary and constitutional procedures.”