Critics in Germany of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s policies are increasingly receiving death threats from Turkish nationalists based in Turkey, death threats which particularly target those speaking out against human rights violations in Turkey. This alarming trend has been highlighted in recent incidents involving German politicians and activists of Turkish and Kurdish descent.
Frankfurt-based Left Party politician Sarya Atac is among those being threatened. A direct Instagram message from someone using the name “Jitemci” warned her of imminent danger, urging her to spend her last days with her family. Similar threats were directed at Civan Akbulut, another Left Party politician, where “Jitemci” sent messages accompanied by a photograph of a man in military attire with a sniper rifle.
Turkish nationalists have repeatedly targeted politicians and activists in Germany who criticise Erdoğan. High-profile individuals like Dr. Kerem Schamberger, a communications scientist and activist, and Eren Güvercin of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), have also received threats from “Jitemci”.
The victims share a common critical stance towards Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, leading them to seek better protection. “Since 2021, I have been facing death threats, and it’s disturbing that I have to worry about my safety in Germany,” said Sarya Atac. Civan Akbulut expressed frustration at the lack of government action, stating, “Our government must protect human rights activists from these anti-democrats and right-wing extremists before it’s too late.”
Kerem Schamberger echoed these concerns, urging the German government to put pressure on Ankara to improve the safety of Turkish and Kurdish opposition members in Germany. “Must someone be shot before politics and security authorities take action?” he asked.
Eren Güvercin called for protection against the “Grey Wolves”, a Turkish right-wing extremist group, urging the German government to implement a ban on the organisation as proposed by the Bundestag. “The threat posed by the Grey Wolves to Kurds, Alevis, Armenians, homosexuals and political dissidents is a reality in both Turkey and Germany that cannot be ignored politically,” Güvercin stated.
The victims suspect “Jitemci” is someone by the name of Tayfun K., who runs a mobile phone shop in Kayseri, Turkey. The name “Jitemci” indicates someone affiliated with or a member of the JİTEM, which stands for the now defunct “Gendarmerie Intelligence and Anti-Terrorism”, notorious for its role in the abduction and murder of thousands of people, primarily left-wing Kurds, in the 1990s.
Cansu Özdemir, Deputy Co-chair of the Hamburg branch of the Left Party, stressed the seriousness of these threats and called for a ban against such individuals entering Germany. “It would be reassuring if there was an entry ban against these people,” she said, having herself also received a death threat from “Jitemci”.