Turkey appoints trustee as Diyarbakir mayor after arrests

Diyarbakir (Turkey) (AFP) - Turkey appointed an unelected state trustee on Tuesday as the mayor of the biggest Kurdish-majority city in the southeast, the governor's office said, after arresting Diyarbakir's co-mayors last month.

Gultan Kisanak and Firat Anli, jointly elected in 2014, were accused by a local court Sunday of "belonging to an armed terrorist organisation" and providing "logistical support to an armed terrorist organisation".

The Diyarbakir mayors' replacement was named as Cumali Atilla, who previously served as a district governor in the capital Ankara. District governors are the state's local representative in an area and they are appointed by the government.

The move is likely to cause further tension after Kisanak and Anli's detentions sparked an outbreak of violence as well as concern from European leaders over Ankara's "worrying" crackdown on Kurdish party politicians.

Protesters held a demonstration to demand the Diyarbakir mayors' release last week but were pushed back by police using tear gas while access to the internet in Diyarbakir was out of action for several hours on Wednesday.

When 24 mayors were suspended and replaced with officials close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in September in the southeast, there were also protests in several cities. The mayors were suspected of links to Kurdish separatists.

Earlier on Tuesday, 30 members of the left-wing opposition Kurdish Democratic Regions' Party were detained in an operation in Mardin, southeast Turkey, over suspected Kurdish militant links, Dogan news agency reported.

The mainly Kurdish southeast has seen renewed violence after the collapse last year of a two-and-a-half-year ceasefire with almost daily attacks and clashes between Turkish security forces and members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The PKK is proscribed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. More than 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK's insurgency began in 1984.

More than 600 Turkish security forces as well as over 7,000 militants have been killed since July 2015, according to the official news agency Anadolu.