Co-Mayor of Kızıltepe: They did not even leave a seat to welcome our guests!

Kızıltepe Co-Mayor Hamdiye Bilek Turgay, who took office after receiving her mandate, said, "They did not even leave a seat to welcome our guests. There are no vehicles belonging to the municipality."

On 31 March, the local elections in northern Kurdistan saw the trustees appointed by the Turkish regime swept out of office. In the meantime, the newly elected co-mayor Hamdiye Bilek Turgay of the DEM party has taken office in the Kızıltepe district of Mardin. In an interview with ANF, she stated that the trustee had plundered the city administration. She was left with a mountain of debt totalling 106 million liras. The city's monthly income totalled 38 million liras, while expenditure was 43 million liras. The trustee even took the furnishings of the town hall with him. The city administration's vehicle fleet has also disappeared.

You received your mandate on Thursday and went to the municipality together with the people. What did you find there?

We weren't even left a seat to receive guests. That shows everything. They even took away the armchairs that our city council had bought for receiving guests before the trustee was appointed. We had to receive our visitors on chairs. There are currently no vehicles belonging to the municipality. We drive everywhere in our own cars. There are two sewage treatment vehicles in the garage, one of which is defective, and the rental vehicles have been withdrawn. Eight lawnmowers and four generators were taken away. Even the gazebos in the garden where staff and guests used to rest were removed. In several neighbourhoods, even the permanently installed equipment in children's playgrounds was dismantled and removed. As we have a high visitor density, we have not yet been able to fully inventory and identify the defects. These are the things that come to mind first.

Kızıltepe Municipality was one of the municipalities in Kurdistan where bribery and rent relations were brought to the top by the trustees. With the criminal complaint filed against the trustee of Kızıltepe, Hüseyin Çam, by the person he directly demanded bribes from, we have learned how public tenders were handled by him. It is not hard to guess that you took over a municipality in debt. How are things looking for you financially?

We have taken over the municipality with a debt of 106 million lira. There are three different loans from the provincial bank. One of these loans amounts to 40 million, one to 34 million and one to 20 million. The monthly instalments for these loans total 5.4 million. As of the moment we took office, the municipality's monthly income totalled 38 million, but expenditure currently stands at 43 million. So, expenditure is higher than income. Not to mention the 106 million lira debt I mentioned. One loan is old, and two instalments remain, but the debts of 38 and 43 million are new, and only the first three instalments of these debts have been paid. We have taken over the rest of the debt and it seems that these loans were taken for tenders for paving stones. With this amount allocated to paving stones, all the roads in a district can be renewed. As you know, previous corruption and tendering problems have always centred on paving stones. The condition of the roads in Kızıltepe is obvious. This was only done to fabricate spending items. We will have a clearer picture and publish it in the next few days. Of course, we will settle these debts, but what they are trying to do to us is to put the people in a difficult situation that will deprive them of even basic services.

Are there enough staff in the municipality at the moment for things to run their natural course? They have formed their own staff, but there is information that the staff they brought with them have also left in many places. What is the situation in Kızıltepe at this point?

They have withdrawn the staff they procured from İŞKUR (Employment Agency) or from subcontractors. The contracts have expired. We only have eleven employees left in the cleaning department. We have informed the Metropolitan Municipality (of Mardin) and asked for reinforcements, but as the same thing has happened there, there is a serious staff shortage there too. They also have no cleaning staff left to reinforce the districts. The neighbourhoods are full of rubbish on the eve of Eid. They are punishing our people this way. Of course, we will go out and collect the rubbish from the streets. The kind of street cleaning we saw in Van will also happen in Kızıltepe.

This is one thing, and the other concerns staff in general. If there is no legal obstacle to the return of our employees dismissed by the trustee, we will reintegrate them into the municipality administration. Many of our truly qualified and deserving staff have been made redundant so they could bring in their own supporters. So, they have attacked the people both economically and morally. Our aim is to redress all these grievances. We will quickly move to a functioning order with competent people who know and understand the needs of the people here. We absolutely must do this in order to eliminate this damage.

We know that people continue to visit the municipality intensely. There is an intense sense of embrace. How are these visits going? What are the people's expectations for the upcoming process?

Once we received our mandates and entered the town hall, we opened the doors wide. When people came to the town hall under the trustee administration, they were fined even when they parked their car in a side street. They were indirectly penalised for coming into the town hall and forcing the trustee mechanism to do their work. People could only enter the town hall by passing through a checkpoint. This was a very serious form of intimidation and repression under the pretence of security. The first thing people said to us was: "Now we can come back to the town hall". The handover of the municipality to our administration reflects their will. They feel justifiably proud and happy about it.

People realise the state in which the municipality has been left to us and the fact that the resources have been exhausted by the trustee with the aim of putting us at odds with the population. People say that they will stand by us under any circumstances. This applies to the old, the young and the children. There is a wonderful embracing. Yesterday, children climbed into the pool at the municipal square. I teased one of them and said that we hadn't changed the water yet, and the child said: "Never mind, it's the municipality’s swimming pool." Our people have been missing the feeling that something belongs to them for years. Of course, we also experience very emotional moments. Uğur Kaymaz's mother came. As soon as she arrived, tears flowed from her eyes and from ours, too. "Thankfully, we can finally see these days," she said. As you know, the trustee removed the statue of Uğur Kaymaz.