The trustee of Kars Municipality in Turkey has ended the agreement of the municipality to support Kars Municipality Employers’ Cooperative, which had been established to promote the sales and marketing of the city’s agricultural products throughout the country.
The Cooperative was established as a result of the initiatives of former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Kars Municipality Co-Mayors Ayhan Bilgen and Şevin Alaca.
It was established in August 2019 and began to market local producers items such as kashar, cecil and gruyère cheeses, honey and butter to consumers.
The products had been sold with the label KarSbel within Beltaş Inc., an affiliate company of the municipality, in various cities throughout Turkey.
The HDP Co-Mayor Ayhan Bilgen was recently arrested as part of a series of operations targeting people for their involvement or links to the 6-8 October 2014 Kobani Protests in Turkey. Following his arrest, Co-Mayor Şevin Alaca was also imprisoned.
After their arrests, the Turkish Interior Ministry replaced them by appointing the city’s governor Türker Öksüz as Kars Municipality’s trustee.
As the trustee, Öksüz has ended the agreement that had been made between Kars Municipality and Kars Municipality Employers’ Cooperative.
Trustees in Turkey
The HDP won 65 municipalities in the 31 March 2019 local elections. However, the trustee appointment policy of the Turkish government (which has sought to replace HDP elected mayors with centrally appointed trustees) has continued.
The number of appointed trustees had risen to 52 after the last trustee appointment to Kars municipality. The number rose further with the blocking of election certifications and resignations.
After the last trustee appointment, the HDP has been left with only five municipalities – in the Kömür district of Adıyaman, the Patnos district of Ağrı (Agirî), the Çınar district of Diyarbakır (Amed) and the Silopi and Balveren districts of Şırnak (Şirnex).