No ballot boxes in three neighborhoods, 23 villages of restive town in southeast Turkey

No ballot boxes in three neighborhoods, 23 villages of restive town in southeast Turkey

İdris Emen - ŞIRNAK
No ballot boxes in three neighborhoods, 23 villages of restive town in southeast Turkey Citizens living in three neighborhoods and 23 villages of a restive district in Turkey’s southeast will only be able to vote in other neighborhoods for the Nov. 1 election following a decision by local authorities.

Dozens were killed during an eight-day siege between Sept. 4 and 12 in Cizre as security forces clashed with militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The District Election Council decided on Sept. 18 to not establish any ballot box in Cizre’s Cudi, Nur and Sur neighborhoods. The decision cited security concerns and the risk of bomb attacks during the vote. 

Besides “flaws in past elections,” the decision also noted that “ditches and barricades” established by PKK militants in the area were still in place in the three neighborhoods.

The decision stipulates that more than 48,000 voters who live in the Cudi, Nur and Sur neighborhoods will be asked to vote in other neighborhoods. The entire Cizre district has some 66,000 voters.

Doğan News Agency reported on Sept. 22 that the election council also decided to not establish any ballot box in 23 villages of Cizre. The decision, taken after a request filed by the gendarmerie, has been conveyed to village heads and representatives of political parties.

According to Turkish officials, around 40 PKK militants were killed and 25 police officers were injured in clashes during the curfew. Relatives of casualties, on the other hand, had said more than 20 civilians were also killed while the PKK said the fight was conducted by locals and not its militants.

Ali Akdeniz, the district chair of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), described the decision as a "political" one. "This is only about punishing people. There are no ditches or barricades in those neighborhoods. They want to take revenge and oppress people," he said, stressing that this party would file an objection.

Request for ‘transported vote’ and claims of fraud

Meanwhile, the Bitlis Governor’s Office in Turkey’s east announced Sept. 21 that it had applied to electoral officials to adopt a “transported vote” method, citing security concerns. If approved, citizens in Bitlis’ countryside will have to travel to town centers in order to vote on Nov. 1.

Mainly due to landslide victories in southeastern provinces, the HDP, which focuses on the Kurdish issue, managed to cross the election threshold in the June 7 election, depriving the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of its majority in parliament. As a result, the AKP’s single-party government collapsed but the country was forced to go to another election when no coalition government was formed.

Turkey’s opposition parties voice concern about electoral irregularities and claims of fraud. 

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chair Sezgin Tanrıkulu presented a motion to the parliament on Sept. 21, asking about claims that 650,000 voters who had voted on June 7 had been removed from voter registries for the Nov. 1 election.

According to the motion, in Istanbul alone there are claims that 145,000 voters have been rendered ineligible to vote.