Political tension increasing in Turkey ahead of critical elections

Political tension has increased across Turkey ahead of the June 24 parliamentary and presidential elections in which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is seeking to retain his seat with increased powers set to come into effect after the polls with a new executive presidential system.

A group of people attacked the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) building and burnt party flags in the province of Bolu on Monday evening. During the attack, in which the police failed to intervene, several members of the HDP were stranded in the building.

According to a report by Bianet, the provincial branch of the HDP in Bolu announced the attack on Twitter and said, “Our party building has been attacked by members of the ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP] and the Nationalist Movement Party [MHP] accompanied by the police.”

The following messages were shared by the HDP’s Bolu branch on Twitter around midnight:

“An attack is being carried out against the Bolu provincial building of the HDP.”

“They have burnt our flags in the company of the police, chanting slogans in favor of the government and the current President [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan].”

“The reactionary, fascist group, who cannot stand our colors, is continuing to burn our flags and chant slogans!”

“The police are telling the fascist crowd to go and hide at the backstreets instead of intervening in the attack.”

“The fascists and the police are preparing arm-in-arm for a second attack on our party building.”

Around the time the attack was being carried out, HDP deputy Meral Danış Beştaş posted a message on Twitter saying: “The number of people who walked in the company of the police with AKP flags in their hands after the HDP’s flags were hung in Bolu reached 1,000 after they took down and burnt the HDP flags. At the moment, 30 people, including our provincial co-chair, are waiting at our provincial building. We know who is responsible if one of them is hurt.”

Necla Yenidünya

Also on Monday, a man attacked a woman distributing brochures for Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the latest in a string of attacks on opposition campaigners in the run-up to the elections.

Necla Yenidünya, a member of the women’s branch of the CHP in the Central Anatolian city of Kırşehir, was attacked by a man shouting, “PKK supporters cannot come here,” in reference to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Following the attack, Yenidünya went to hospital to obtain a report detailing her injuries and then lodged a complaint with the police. Police reportedly detained the alleged attacker.

In early May eight people were injured during an attack on İYİ Party supporters campaigning in İstanbul. Later in May, a stand set up by the Islamist opposition Felicity Party (SP) was attacked in the capital of Ankara.

Meanwhile, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Monday said his party administrators’ telephones are wiretapped by President Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, the Cumhuriyet daily reported.

Kılıçdaroğlu’s comments to members of the press came on a flight from Turkey’s northwestern Çanakkale province, where the CHP leader was on the campaign trail ahead of the elections.

“There is no democracy in this country if people are concerned even when talking on the phone,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. “My telephone and my party administrators’ telephones have been tapped since I became chairman of the CHP. Actually, Erdoğan once said, ‘We follow your every breath, Kılıçdaroğlu.’ Turkey has become an counterintelligence state. We’re not enemies for you to be listening to us. Actually, this is some kind of unique illness — an illness of the inability to rule the country and anxiety about your future.’’

Kılıçdaroğlu claimed that Felicity Party (SP) leader Temel Karamollaoğlu’s phone was also tapped. The CHP and SP are part of opposition “Nation Alliance,” which also includes the right-wing nationalist İYİ Party and the center-right Democrat Party (DP).

Moreover, the chairman of Gaziantepspor football club has been suspended from Twitter over threats made to a presidential candidate in the run-up to the June 24 elections, the Yeniçağ daily reported.

Hasan Şahin (@HasanSahinn27 on Twitter) found his account suspended after writing that he would “sacrifice” İYİ Party chairman and the party’s presidential candidate Meral Akşener for wearing the team’s scarf at a rally in Gaziantep province.

“Akşener was a terrorist and a member of the Gülen movement,” said Şahin, who was subsequently suspended under the “harassment and threats” section of the Twitter rules.

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