NEWS DESK - Sinn Féin deputy Seán Crowe tabled a question to Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, about the dismissal of the HDP mayors of Diyarbakır, Van and Mardin.
Sinn Féin deputy Seán Crowe tabled a question to Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, if "his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Turkish Government has removed three democratically elected Kurdish mayors from office and Turkish authorities arrested more than 400 political activists in August 2019 as part of a deepening crackdown on Kurdish political parties".
Deputy Crowe also asked the Minister "his views on this development and the worsening human rights and democratic situation in Turkey".
The Sinn Féin deputy further asked if he "will raise the issue with his Turkish counterpart. The mayors of Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van, who are all members of the People's Democratic Party (HDP), were democratically elected by large majorities in March 2019."
Minister Coveney replied the question saying that "the Irish Government, together with our European partners, continues to view the situation in Turkey with regard to human rights, rule of law, and democracy with grave concern."
The minister added that "the Conclusions on Enlargement adopted on 18 June at the General Affairs Council noted that there has been continued backsliding on fundamental rights in Turkey, and that arrests, detentions, and other measures targeting journalists, academics, civil society actors, and elected officials cannot be condoned. Both the EU and the Government have repeatedly called on Turkey to reverse these negative trends and allow Turkish citizens to freely exercise their fundamental rights."
The minister further said that "the dismissal of three democratically elected mayors and their replacement with Governors appointed by the central Government is a particular cause for concern. Such measures undermine the democratic outcomes of the local elections that were held at the end of March, and deprive voters of political representation at the local level. Anti-terror legislation must not be used as a political tool and must be exercised with respect for fundamental rights, the rule of law, and democracy."
Minister Coveney ended his reply saying that "together with our European partners, we will continue to monitor developments in Turkey, and raise our concerns on human rights, freedom of expression, rule of law, and democracy."