Van under siege by the police and military

Public life in Van has been paralysed by a large contingent of "security forces" since the local elections. Emergency forces with water cannons are positioned on all major streets. Police helicopters circle over the city day and night.


Public life in the province of Van has been paralysed by a large police force since the local elections on 31 March. The DEM Party won in all 14 constituencies in the province and the ruling AKP party was defeated. Immediately after the election, the victory of the newly elected co-mayor, Abdullah Zeydan of the DEM Party, was cancelled. The election committee declared that the second-placed AKP candidate Abdulahat Arvas should take office after a court had previously declared Zeydan's candidature invalid. The people opposed this and took to the streets. After days of protests, the decision was reversed, and Abdullah Zeydan was able to move into the town hall as co-mayor together with Neslihan Şedal.

A month and a half have passed since the popular uprising, but the police and military are still present in large numbers. The "security forces" are blocking traffic, hampering trade and paralysing public life. Emergency forces with water cannons are positioned on all major roads. Police helicopters are circling over the city day and night. The governor announced that identity checks would continue on the access roads and that the general ban on gatherings would be extended. Over a hundred people have been arrested in Turkey in connection with the protests.

DEM provincial association co-chair Veysi Dilekçi describes the state of siege as the state's reaction to the people's resistance to the cancellation of their vote. Remarking that the people had prevailed with a democratic stance, the politician told ANF: "The state of emergency declared in Turkey in 2016 was lifted in 2018, but it still applies in Van. The right of assembly enshrined in the constitution has been suspended, and everyday life is made more difficult by this state of siege. The situation has worsened since the elections. State measures are directed against the will of the people. The constitution is no longer valid in Van. There is a repressive atmosphere that we cannot accept. We call on the government to abandon this policy and allow normal life in Van."

Lawyer Mahmut Kaçan pointed out that the "security measures" have no legal basis: "It is being pretended that there are riots in Van every day. In my opinion, the measures are politically motivated because the government wants to punish the population for its democratic stance and take revenge for it."