Turkish police on Tuesday arrested the Kurdish co-Mayors of Diyarbakir, Gultan Kisanak and Firat Anli. Internet access was blocked across Turkey’s Kurdish Region, immediately after the politicians’ arrest.
Tuesday’s arrests will most likely result in more protests and a spike in tensions between Kurds living in Turkey and Ankara.
Anticipating those protests and tensions, Turkish security forces severed the Internet connection of millions of people. “This blackout attempt aims at silencing the voice of people in the region as well as preventing them from exercising their right to be informed,” the Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality said in a statement.
Both of the arrested co-mayors were member of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP). Dozens of high-ranking municipal officials have been detained since Tuesday. All of them are members of the HDP.
“Detention of the co-Mayors of Diyarbakir shall be interpreted as the final phase of a year-long process of suppression carried out by the government to abolish local democracy in Turkey,” the Diyarbakir Municipality said. “Thus, this is also an opportunity to save local democracy by enabling the release of the co-mayors and halting the appointment of government trustees.”
The Turkish-Kurdish peace process, which was launched in 2009, broke down in June 2015. Both sides have since resumed open hostilities, resulting in thousands of fatalities. The European Union has repeatedly called on both sides to resume the peace process and end the cycle of violence.
Rebuffing the EU, Turkey has arrested dozens of pro-Kurdish politicians, banned Kurdish-language media and launched attacks on Kurdish communities in Syria.