The HDP co-mayor of the Cizre district of Turkey’s Şırnak Province, 28-year-old Leyla İmret, was brought into the world of politics very abruptly at an early age, with her father being killed “before her eyes” by Turkish “security forces” when she was just five years old. Having grown up in Germany, she was elected democratically in 2014 with “83% of votes“.
In early August 2015, İmret told VICE News that her district was “a center of resistance against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP)”. She also shared a saying with the outlet: “if there’s peace”, she said, “it will start from Cizre, and if there’s war, it will start from here as well”. And, judging by the current circumstances, she asserted, “we have a civil war in Turkey“.
On September 11, after her city had been under siege for over a week, she was “removed from her post by the Interior Ministry” (an unelected office appointed by President Erdoğan) after being accused of “inciting people to hatred and spreading propaganda for terrorism”. This decision was apparently made on the basis of a “deliberate mistranslation in Turkish media of a statement to Vice News”. VICE’s John Beck, meanwhile, asserted that the media had ‘misquoted’ his report to make it sound like she was “conducting civil war”. This statement, he insisted, was “completely false”. But, unsurprisingly, this correction did not change Erdoğan’s mind.
Essentially, İmret’s dismissal and the State’s siege of Cizre were part of President Erdoğan’s policy of political ‘recalibration’ in Turkey (after the HDP had been so successful in the June 7 elections). By ending the fragile peace process with the PKK guerrillas and launching a completely disproportionate military campaign against the progressive group, the president was now shamelessly seeking to gain support for his party from Turkish nationalists and right-wing Islamists (all in the hope of winning November’s election outright by reducing the HDP vote). In short, democracy, peace, and justice were losing out and, although it was very difficult to see what anyone could possibly gain from the return to civil war, the Erdoğan regime pushed forward with its destructive and senseless policy nonetheless.