WASHINGTON, DC—The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) participated in a demonstration outside the Turkish Embassy on Tuesday demanding the release of the unjustly jailed mayors of Amed, Mardin, and Van – three major, Kurdish-majority municipalities that were once home to vibrant, pre-genocide Armenian populations. The protest was organized by members of the Kurdistani American Committee.
Last month, the Turkish government of Recep Erdogan replaced pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) elected leaders – Amed co-mayor Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı, Mardin co-mayor Ahmet Türk and Van co-mayor Bedia Özgökçe Ertan with hand-picked state officials and also arrested more than 400 others accused of political crimes against the state. These moves are seen as part of a broader effort by Erdogan to tar the HDP as a front for the PKK, which is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.
“We’re committed to working with our Kurdish American allies toward a democratic, pluralist and tolerant Turkey – one that’s capable of reckoning honestly with its past and responsibly meeting its obligations to the future,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “It’s in this spirit that we joined in protesting the removal of mayors of municipalities that were home to large pre-1915 Armenian populations that, until this day, include many Armenians whose heritage has remained hidden for much of the past century.”