MEPs condemn attack on HDP, murder of party member

An attack on pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) office in İzmir and the killing of Deniz Poyraz, a party official in the building at the time, have received condemnation from members of the European Parliament (MEP).

“Appalled to learn of the death of #HDP party worker Deniz Poyraz killed by an assailant attacking @HDPgenelmerkezi #İzmir office. All my solidarity to her family and HDP. Perpetrator of this heinous crime must be brought to justice. The political campaign against HDP must end,” the EP’s Turkey rapporteur Nacho Sánchez Amor tweeted.

The attacker, Onur Gencer, 27, had posted photos of himself carrying assault rifles and made threats against HDP members, calling them “Armenian spawn.”

The HDP is the Turkish parliament’s third-largest party, which the government is trying to close over alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). But the party denies official ties to the PKK and says it is targeted because of its vehement opposition to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government.

“A fascist brutally murdered Kurdish activist Deniz Poyraz in Izmir’s party office of @HDPenglish today. This amidst climate of hatred against political opponents. My heartfelt condolences to Deniz’ family & friends during this difficult time,” the EP’s former Turkey rapporteur Kati Piri said in a tweet.

The European Parliament’s Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Group condemned the attack, expressing solidarity with the family of Deniz Poyraz, the victim of the attack, and the HDP, in a statement they posted on the group’s official website, www.socialistsanddemocrats.eu, on Thursday.

The Left in the European Parliament (GUE/NGL) on Thursday condemned the attack in a tweet that said: “We condemn the brutal raid on @HDPenglish office in Izmir, Turkey & the murder of party worker #DenizPoyraz. All our support & solidarity goes to the HDP & the loved ones of Ms Poyraz. The EU must speak out against Erdogan’s violent repression.”

The European Free Alliance (EFA), a European political party, too, spoke out against the brutal attack in İzmir, in a Twitter message on Thursday.

“Following the murder of Deniz Poyraz in the attack on the @HDPenglish İzmir district building, EFA President @lorenalacalleA gives her condolences. This has been done on purpose to try to encourage a violent response. The strongest tool @hdpint has is full commitment to peace and dialogue to solve political differences. They will not be detoured from this,” the EFA said.

Gencer, currently under arrest, claimed to be acting on his own, saying in a statement: “I am not affiliated with any group. I entered the building because I hate the PKK and fired at random.” He threatened the HDP in a social media post, expressing his resentment and promising to “make them bleed.”

A healthcare worker who was reported as not showing up at work for a while, Gencer shared photos of himself holding automatic weapons on social media, according to Turkish media. The photos appear to be taken in the Syrian provinces of Manbij and Aleppo, where the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) conducted cross-border operations along with Syrian militants and seized swathes of land from Kurdish militias.

The assailant also posted photos making an ultranationalist hand gesture associated with the Grey Wolves, a far-right paramilitary group with close ties to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), an ally of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The HDP directed its anger over the attack at the government. “After months of attacks by the ruling party and interior ministry and families being told to organize outside our provincial offices to spark provocations, there was an attack today at 10:30 a.m. on our İzmir provincial building,” it said.

HDP officials stressed that the attack occurred while the building was under round-the-clock police surveillance, accusing law enforcement of turning a blind eye.

Ertuğrul Kürkçü, the honorary chair of HDP and a former lawmaker, claimed on Twitter that the attacker was not alone, that three men stormed the building and that they were planning to perpetrate a mass killing. However, no one was in the building at the time except the victim, Kürkçü said.

HDP lawmaker Hüda Kaya claimed that Gencer was trained by SADAT, a paramilitary group established by Adnan Tanrıverdi, a former aide to President Erdoğan.

The chief public prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals on June 7 refiled an indictment with the Constitutional Court seeking to close down the HDP.

The court in March returned the first version of the indictment to the chief prosecutor’s office at the top appeals court for review on the grounds that there were deficiencies in the indictment.

The indictment seeks the imposition of a political ban on 451 party members as well as freezing the party’s bank accounts.

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