Co-Mayors of Van Metropolitan Municipality: Stand up against this lawlessness

Stating that what is happening is absolute lawlessness, Van Metropolitan Municipality Co-Mayors said, "We expect everyone to stand up against this lawlessness because what is done to us today will be done to İzmir tomorrow."

The DEM Party won the local elections in the Kurdish province of Van on 31 March with a large majority. Instead of handing over the mandate to DEM co-mayor Abdullah Zeydan, who won the election with 55.5 percent of the vote, the office of mayor was given to AKP candidate Abdulahat Arvas with a 27 percent share of the vote. People of Van took to the streets today in protest, confronted with police attacks with tear gas and water cannons. Similar actions by the state forces are also emerging in other provinces where protests are taking place against the usurpation of the people’s will.

The authorities justified the move, which was categorised by lawyers as "clearly illegal", with an appeal by the Turkish Ministry of Justice against an earlier decision granting Zeydan the right to be elected. The former member of parliament served more than five years in prison on terror charges, was convicted by a final judgement and was released in early 2022. Nevertheless, the election committee did not raise any objections to his application to run for mayor.

The DEM Party and the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD) made public today that, last Friday, just five minutes before the court closed - and less than 48 hours before the local elections - the Ministry of Justice obtained the cancellation of the restoration of Zeydan's political rights and a reversal of the erasure from the criminal record. The application was decided in favour of the ministry in a summary procedure and the decision was sent to the election board. The ÖHD speaks of an "instruction" that came "from the very top" and said: "The judiciary has once again submitted to the executive. Hours before the local elections, it conducted an inadmissible objection procedure and disregarded the law in favour of those in power. The Van Provincial Election Commission did not object to the court's unlawful decision against Abdullah Zeydan and appointed the defeated AKP candidate as mayor. The political will of the people has once again been usurped."

Van Metropolitan Municipality Co-Mayors Neslihan Şedal and Abdullah Zeydan made a statement in front of the DEM Party Van Provincial Organisation.

Speaking here to the accompaniment of hundreds of people, Abdullah Zeydan said, "We have taken 14 municipalities in Van with the will of our people. Despite the fact that I have taken back my rights, an ambush and trap are intended to be set against the will of the people."

Referring to the current process, Zeydan said, "I applied to the court for the restoration of my rights due to my conviction a year ago and the court accepted it. It is not enough for the court to make this decision, which must also be finalised. And, indeed, this decision has been finalised. There is no problem in this regard. A year has passed, and I applied to the provincial election board with the court decision and the finalisation annotation. The YSK (Supreme Election Board) examined all the documents and said that there was no obstacle to my eligibility for election. Firstly, it published the provisional list. Then the final candidate list was published and there was no objection. Yesterday afternoon, at 16.55, we learnt that the Directorate of Criminal Registry wrote a letter to the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor's Office with the excuse that the decision of a year ago was not notified to the court."

Zeydan said that there is no similar decision in Turkey and continued: "It is like a situation in which a finalised decision of the Court of Cassation is annulled by a local court. There is absolute lawlessness and illegality. Sometimes the Ministry of Justice may attempt to overturn a decision in favour of the law. There is such a procedure. But they did not follow this procedure either. In fact, the court could have taken the prosecutor's decision to the Court of Cassation. The court cancelled the decision it had made a year ago without any legal basis. There is an ambush and trap set against the will of the people. We will protect the will of the people against this ambush until the end. It means that after the decision was taken, the AKP was informed, and they submitted a request to get the mandate for the mayor’s office. The chair of the Provincial Election Board did not accept the AKP's request to give the mandate to their candidate, but two members voted yes. We have the right to appeal against this decision. Our lawyers are already doing their work. The issue here is not Zeydan and Şedal, it is a trap set against the Kurdish people, against the people of Van. We expect everyone to stand up against this lawlessness. Because what is done to us today will be done to Izmir tomorrow. No one can trample the will of the people.”

Addressing the AKP candidate, Zeydan said, "It is not right for you to openly trample the will and honour of this people with such open conspiracies and traps. How will you sit in that seat by trampling on the will of this people? How will you face the people? How will you go out among them? This people will never accept this. We invite everyone to be rational. This will must be manifested as soon as possible. We salute the people of Van who embrace their honour and will.”

Neslihan Şedal, Co-Mayor of Van Metropolitan Municipality, said, "Today's success and victory is a point reached together with the people."

Interpreting the unlawful measure against Zeydan as a "political coup", Şedal said, "We state once again that we will reveal our attitude against this and that we will once again recover what was taken from us from their usurpation. We do not recognise the decision taken by the Republic of Turkey. We say that it is a political decision and usurpation. The will of this people is much greater than the decisions they are trying to take. Today, those who cannot digest our victory and the success of this people have realised that they have suffered a defeat in Kurdistan and are taking it out on the people. The patriotic people of Van have shown that they will stand firm against this usurpation. Our attitude against this political coup is clear. Abdulahat Arvas will not be able to sit in that seat. Even if he does, he will not be able to go out among this people who have not taken him for their will. We are and will remain the will of this people. We appeal to our people; do not give them the opportunity and embrace your will.”