19 detained over deadly clash amid election tour in southeast Turkey
A total of 19 people were detained on June 16 over an armed clash during an election tour of a delegation from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the southeastern Turkish province of Şanlıurfa.
State-run Anadolu Agency reported that an MP candidate from the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and several district administrators of the HDP, as well as its local affiliate the Democratic Regions Party (DBP), were among the detained.
“Some of those who were involved in this incident were registered in the police records for their past links to the [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party/Kurdistan Communities Union] PKK/KCK,” Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said in Şanlıurfa’s Suruç district on June 15.
“All of these findings will be evaluated and the truth will be revealed,” he added.
The delegation, led by AKP MP İbrahim Yıldız, was visiting local shopkeepers in Suruç on June 14, 10 days before the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.
A group of shopkeepers initially engaged in a heated argument with the AKP delegation, which eventually turned violent. Guns and clubs were used in the ensuing clash, reports said.
Yıldız claimed that the brawl started after the opposing group told the delegation that “they support the PKK” and asked why AKP members went there despite knowing this.
Four people, including a brother of Yıldız, were killed and eight, including four other brothers of Yıldız, were reportedly injured.
Local media reported that other casualties were people linked to the local affiliate of the HDP.
On June 16, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also commented on the armed clash, saying he had listened to the incident in person from MP Yıldız.
“İbrahim [Yıldız] comes from a family who has been fighting against terror. When he visited the local tradesmen there, they told him, ‘Don’t you know we are HDP supporters? Why have you come here?’ Then a verbal assault began and they attacked,” Erdoğan told broadcaster Kanal 7.
Minister blames CHP’s presidential candidate
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu raised eyebrows by blaming the main opposition Republican People Party’s (CHP) presidential candidate Muharrem İnce over the deadly clash.
“I am saying it very clearly: The reason and the enabler of the Suruç incident is Muharrem İnce,” Soylu said on June 16 during his visit to the AKP’s Beşiktaş district headquarters in Istanbul.
On June 16, Soylu said security camera footage confirmed Yıldız’s statement, accusing the HDP of “becoming the servant of the PKK.”
“But there is someone who spoils [the HDP] and it is Muharrem İnce, who represents the very understanding that sets them apart from politics and closer to violence,” he said, blasting the CHP candidate’s visit to the HDP’s jailed presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş.