Police open fire in air as BDP supporters protest AKP candidate in Van

Police open fire in air as BDP supporters protest AKP candidate in Van

VAN – Doğan News Agency
Police open fire in air as BDP supporters protest AKP candidate in Van

The AKP’s candidate, Osman Nuri Gülaçar, was rushed into his party's headquarters as BDP supporters continued their protest. DHA photo

Tension erupted in the eastern province of Van after a group of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) supporters protested the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) mayoral candidate Jan. 22. Police resorted to opening fire in the air as both sides accused each other of instigating the violence. 

The AKP’s candidate Osman Nuri Gülaçar was visiting shopkeepers in the city as part of his campaign for the upcoming local elections in March when a group of 500 people gathered to stage a protest against him.

“The one who is scared and steps back is despicable. Express your projects and your services. But not this way, through violence and pressure,” Gülaçar told the BDP supporters as they started chanting for the city’s current mayor Bekir Kaya.

A group of around 100 AKP members accompanying Gülaçar responded with chants in support of the mayoral candidate. 

Tension rose after some BDP supporters hurled stones at Gülaçar, while the AKP members escorted him to the party’s premises, protecting him by forming a human chain. 

However, BDP officials accused one of Gülaçar’s supporters of opening fire on the people while police were shooting into the air. “If you are not wanted somewhere, you can’t make yourself accepted by opening fire on the people,” BDP’s deputy provincial head Atilla Kumli said.

“The AKP isn't wanted in this area. In my opinion, it has to withdraw from here. We are warning the AKP and the state. The person who opened fire should immediately be captured and tried,” he added.
Some of the BDP supporters continued their protest with a sit-in in front of the AKP’s provincial headquarters under tight security.

Gülaçar, a controversial figure due to alleged links with al-Qaeda, was briefly taken into custody last week during an operation against the militant group. 

He had already been briefly taken into custody in 2009 along with 15 other suspects during another operation against al-Qaeda.