Violence escalating ahead of local elections
Neither the governing party nor the opposition parties have escaped becoming targets of violent attacks in the run-up to the local elections on March 30.
In last few days, attacks have visibly escalated, with arms being used and election offices coming under attack. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) have all been targeted in different corners of the country, within the space of four days. The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) was also the victim of an armed attack in late January, in which a press advisor of the party lost his life after being shot.
From Buca and Urla to Kadıköy
On Feb. 23, HDP members were targeted in attacks in the Urla town of the Aegean province of İzmir during the opening of their party’s campaigning office. Some 100 HDP members had gathered in front of the office, after which around 1,000 people marched to the square where the office building is, shouting slogans and declaring that they would not allow the HDP’s presence there.
They also shouted slogans against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Doğan News Agency reported. The HDP is a sister party of the pro-Kurdish BDP, which shares grassroots with the PKK.
As police used tear gas against the crowd, some people from the group marched to the BDP branch office in the town and continued their protest. Some threw plastic chairs at both the HDP and BDP buildings, while others hurled stones at a campaigning bus of the HDP.
“As a result of the attack by a racist and intolerant group of around 1,000 people, seven people, including HDP co-mayor candidate for İzmir Osman Özçelik, were injured,” the BDP’s deputy co-chair in charge of its Human Rights Commission, Meral Danış Beştaş, said in a written statement yesterday.
She added that similar attacks against the HDP had taken place on the same day in the Kadıköy district of Istanbul and the Buca town in İzmir. “The government, the opposition and the democratic public should be determined in regards to move violence away from politics and social life,” Beştaş said, calling for an active struggle against violence on political grounds.
“The ideal of democracy that Turkey needs will be possible only by struggling against this racist understanding that constitutes a barrier in front of civil politics,” she added.
CHP Deputy Chair Sezgin Tanrıkulu also released a written statement yesterday, expressing concern that high tension in politics was being reflected in society.
“Nobody has or can have the right to block the activities of another political party, with which it doesn’t share the same view, via force, violence, pressure and lynch attempts,” Tanrıkulu said.
“Turkey doesn’t need more polarization, but needs an environment in which people can go to ballot boxes with campaigns that are run according to democratic principles,” he added.
From Van and Hakkari to Aydın
In the Eastern Anatolian province of Van, an election vehicle belonging to the AKP’s mayoral candidate for the town of Edremit was stoned on Feb. 23 by dozens of people. No injuries were reported, but the vehicle was badly damaged.
Late on Feb. 23, in the Aegean province of Aydın, the window panes of the election office of Aydın Mayor Özlem Çerçioğlu of the CHP, who is also running for the same post in the upcoming elections, were smashed.
Meanwhile, in the Şemdinli town in the Hakkari province of southeastern Anatolia on Feb. 21, two people were injured in an attack with hunting rifles on AKP members who were out hanging party flags.