Ayhan Bilgen (2017)
|Mayor of Kars|
31 March 2019 – 2 October 2020
|Member of the Grand National Assembly|
June 2015 – June 2018
|Born||Sarıkamıs, Kars Province|
|Alma mater||Ankara University, Hacettepe University|
Early life and education
In 2006 he was engaged in the Turkish Human Rights association Mazlumder in which activity he opposed the new Anti-Terror bill by the Turkish Government as it limited the freedom of expression. In the same year he was elected as its chairman, and he kept the post for two years. In 2011 the newspaper he was the editor in chief of, Günlük, was closed by the Turkish authorities due to suspected support of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). He was also a columnist for the newspapers Özgür Gündem and Evrensel.
He was elected to the Turkish parliament for Kars as a representative for the HDP in the general election of June 2015, and again the snap elections of November 2015. He supported the defense of Kobani against the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) in Kobani and was prosecuted for taking part in manifestations in October 2014 during the Siege of Kobani. He was arrested in spring 2017 and released in September of the same year. During his parliamentary career he advocated for Human Rights, Kurdish rights and the protection of the environment. In the local elections of March 2019 he was elected the Mayor of Kars. In May 2020, after several Municipalities won by the HDP were put under the authority of state appointed trustees, Bilgen received the support from dozens of human rights organization. On 25 September 2020, he was detained together with several prominent HDP politicians like former deputies Sırrı Sureyya Önder and Ayla Akat Ata due to the Kobani protests which where held in support for the Kurdish population in the Syrian town of Kobani in 2014, which was then besieged by ISIL. On 2 October 2020, he was formally arrested and deposed as Mayor of Kars and replaced by a government-appointed trustee, the governor of Kars Province, Eyüp Tepe.
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