The co-mayors of Turkey's largest Kurdish majority city, Diyarbakir, have been arrested on charges of "terrorism" on late Tuesday, 25 October, Turkey's state run Anadolu news agency said.
The news agency reported that anti-terrorism police took Gultan Kisanak into custody at Diyarbakir airport while Firat Anli was arrested at his home as part of investigations into the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). According to reports, Kisanak is the city's first female mayor and an ex-member of the parliament.
Turkey's main pro-Kurdish political party in parliament, Peoples' Democratic Party, of which Kisanak is a member, denounced the arrest and asked for her immediate release. The party also called for protests in the city on Wednesday, 26 October. Earlier on Tuesday, Kisanak had testified in front of a parliamentary committee investigating the failed coup in July, the Associated Press reported.
The mayor of Diyarbakir is the highest profile pro-Kurdish politician to be arrested since Turkey's government gave itself emergency powers after the failed coup. In September, 28 mayors of largely Kurdish towns were ousted. They were replaced with trustees appointed by the government using the emergency law. The Peoples' Democratic Party decried the decision and said it was "coup by trustees".
Aaron Stein, a fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington tweeted saying, "The reverberation of this decision will have a considerable impact on Turkish domestic politics and will have reverberations on foreign policy. This will contribute to the cycle of violence and may be used to justify assassination attempts against ruling party officials by the PKK."
The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is viewed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the EU. The conflict between the Turkish government and the PKK dates back to 1984 when the group demanded the establishment of an independent Kurdish state in the southeast of Turkey.