Kurdish man who questioned ‘transferred’ voters on election day indicted

Kurdish man Süleyman Salğucak

A Kurdish man who questioned voters who were allegedly “transferred” to his city of residence in the southeastern province of Şırnak on the day of the March 31 local elections in order to change the election results in favor of the ruling party has been indicted, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Mezopotamya news agency.

A video showing Süleyman Salğucak, 61, in traditional Kurdish headgear and clothing, questioning supposed police officers and soldiers who were waiting in line to vote went viral on social media. “Tell me, where are you from?” Salğucak asked the young men in the queue, while other angry locals criticized them for bowing to the government’s “illegal” orders.

The video was widely circulated on social media, with many praising his courage in the face of alleged election fraud.

Salğucak has been indicted by the Şırnak Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, which launched an investigation into him in April, on accusations of preventing voters from reaching the polling stations by the use of force or threats.

The first hearing in his trial will take place on October 8 at a penal court of first instance in Şırnak.

Two officials from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (DEM Party) are also named in the indictment, with provincial chairpersons Abdullah Güngen and Tufan Ertaş facing the same charge as Salğucak.

Salğucak, who was interrogated by the police in April as part of the investigation, denied the charges against him, saying that he only asked the people waiting in line — seemingly not residents of Şırnak — who they were and did not have any intention of threatening them or preventing them from voting.

He said he saw a group of young men exiting a bus that had an out-of-province license plate, which he said made him think they were soldiers transferred from other cities to vote in Şırnak for the ruling party.

On election day, not only locals like Salğucak but also many members of the DEM Party and observers claimed that a large number of police officers and soldiers who were not registered locally were voting illegally in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast in order to influence the elections in favor of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) candidates.

Locals and DEM Party officials were seen in the videos reacting to the presumed soldiers and police officers and asking them why they were waiting to cast their votes there despite the fact that they didn’t live in that particular area.

Salğucak’s video was one of them.

Despite claims of voter fraud, the DEM Party emerged victorious in the local elections, winning a dozen municipalities in Turkey’s southeast.

The DEM Party won three metropolitan municipalities out of 30, seven provincial municipalities and 65 district municipalities in the March 31 local elections.

Nationwide support for the DEM Party stood at 5.7 percent, with 2.6 million people voting for it.

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