Seven days before the coming crucial elections: increasing military attacks on cross-border Kurdish regions, limited fundamental rights, rising tension in the political scene…
*Updated at 3:22 pm (CET)
Kobanê Council accuses Turkey of using attacks on Kurdish regions for election propaganda
Turkey has been increasing military attacks on Kurdish regions in northeast Syria as a propaganda tool for the coming elections, Kurdish-led Kobanê Canton Administrative Council Co-Chair Mistefa Êto told ANHA news agency.
Êto stressed that Turkey’s attacks were aimed at disrupting security and stability in North and East Syria and gaining the votes of Turkish nationalist groups. Êto also stated that the real culprits behind the attacks were the US and Russia, who were turning a blind eye to Turkey’s violation of their agreement not to attack the region.
Turkey recently conducted several air and ground attacks on the region, including a drone attack that killed a Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter in Kobanê on 25 April.
In respect of the forthcoming elections, Êto emphasised the importance of free and fair voting for all sectors of Turkey, particularly the Kurds, and voters warned against falling for the promises of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Green Left transports expat voters to polls
The foreign election coordination team of the Green Left Party has mobilised all communication and transportation networks to transport voters to the polls. The team is contacting voters individually, and providing transportation for voters who are elderly or unwell to the polling stations. They are also bussing voters in some areas to the polling stations en masse. The team has announced that all transportation networks have been mobilised to increase voter participation.
More than 1.4 million Turkish expatriates cast their ballots in the 2023 presidential and parliamentary elections at consulates and customs points around the world. The voting process, which began on 27 April, will end on 9 May at consulates and will continue until 14 May at customs points.
Kurdish politicians urge expat voters to cast ballots for Green Left Party
Kurdish politicians Hatip Dicle and Osman Baydemir have urged expat voters to cast their ballots for the Green Left Party in the forthcoming Turkish elections, stressing the importance of external votes in determining the number of seats won.
Dicle said that the 14 May elections were a historic turning point for the country, as achieving a democratic solution to the Kurdish issue is crucial.
Baydemir also called on all eligible voters to exercise their democratic right and vote for the Green Left Party, and noted that the securing of certain seats in the parliament was entirely dependent on overseas votes.
“There are only two days left and there are still hundreds of thousands who have not cast their votes,” said Baydemir. “I am calling out to you; please remember that you hold the key to change and transformation. Remember that your right to vote is also the key that will open the doors of dungeons.”
Concerns over voting rights of detained persons in Turkey’s elections
According to data from the General Directorate of Prisons and Detention Centers of the Justice Ministry as of March 2023, there are about 350,000 detainees and convicts in 399 prisons throughout Turkey. However, only 41,614 detainees will be able to vote in the 14 May elections due to the constitutional right to vote only being granted to remand prisoners and those convicted of crimes of negligence.
In a 2014 decision, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that the United Kingdom had violated Article 3 of Protocol No.1 by not allowing prisoners to vote and by failing to establish a legal framework for voting, according to the Istanbul Prison Commission of the Lawyers Association for Freedom. Likewise, in its 2022 decision in the case of Resul Çetin vs Turkey, the ECHR ruled that Resul Çetin’s right to free elections had been violated because he was unable to vote due to being convicted.
“Thus, it is clear that Turkey, as a party to the European Convention on Human Rights, violates the voting rights of convicts due to the existence of regulations that restrict or prevent convicts from voting,” said the commission.
The Association also stated that although remand prisoners have the legal right to vote, political prisoners were deliberately prevented from voting by being transported to other regions days before the elections. For example in recent operations against pro-Kurdish opposition circles in 21 provinces, those who were arrested were sent to various prisons, meaning that those sent to prison in a region other than that in which they were registered were prevented from voting.
Nation Alliance economic team determine post-election economic steps
The economic advisors of the main opposition bloc Nation Alliance met in Istanbul to discuss the economic challenges that the new government will face after the general elections.
They set the priorities of economic steps to be taken to overcome the economic difficulties facing Turkey once they have formed a new government. According to the team, these steps include building a corruption-free public administration, creating a transparent and predictable business environment, preparing a development plan, and setting up a commission to assess the damage caused by the current administration.
Far-right leader and ally of Erdoğan threatens opposition parties
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli made threatening remarks towards the opposition during a rally on Saturday in the northwestern province of Yalova.
“These traitors will either receive life sentences or take bullets to their bodies,” said Bahçeli, referring to the main opposition bloc Nation Alliance, which is led by the Republican People’s Party (CHP).
The MHP leader has been known for his aggressive rhetoric towards the opposition in recent years, frequently using terms such as “traitors” and “terrorists” to describe his political opponents.
“They say they will withdraw our troops from Iraq and Syria where they are serving to fulfil our legitimate and legal defence rights,” said Bahçeli, accusing the opposition of being against the fight against terrorism.
The Turkish government has been conducting military operations against Kurdish forces in northern Syria and northern Iraq, arguing that the operations are within the scope of the right of self-defence. International law experts do not agree with the way Turkey is exercising its right of self-defence.
Erdoğan too has increased threatening rhetoric in the run-up to the elections.
“On May 14, this saintly nation, my dear citizens, will make a grave for you of the ballot boxes,” Erdoğan said, addressing his rival Kılıçdaroğlu at a rally recently.
Kılıçdaroğlu: “Mafias, militants, and extremists threaten Turkey”
Erdoğan’s rival in the presidential elections, CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu, responded to Bahçeli’s words, “life sentences or bullets” in a social media post yesterday.
Referring to the AKP-led People’s Alliance, Kılıçdaroğlu said that mafias, militants and extremists had come together to threaten Turkey. He also encouraged young people to “bury them in the rubbish dump of history in the first round,” and added: “Then I will send them back to where they belong. I promise you!”
Erdoğan holds Istanbul rally one day after rival
Hundreds of thousands of people attended the opposition Nation Alliance’s Istanbul rally on Saturday. The leaders of the six parties that make up the alliance addressed the public at the rally, repeating their promises regarding the economy, social policies, and the law. The leaders appeared on stage with their spouses, except for the Good Party (İYİP) leader Meral Akşener, who was accompanied by her grandson. The message of the alliance was “We will win together by uniting.”
Istanbul is preparing for the AKP’s biggest pre-election rally today.
Mayor İmamoğlu urges voters to prevent potential election fraud
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu spoke at the rally in Istanbul on Saturday, urging voters to ensure fair and transparent elections on 14 May. Referring to the cancellation of the previous mayoral election in Istanbul, İmamoğlu criticised the ruling party for not respecting the will of the people and attempting to cancel the results, and called on voters to go to the polls for a clear win in the first round of the election.
İmamoğlu also warned against potential election fraud and argued that in a case of a run-off vote, the government will do everything in its power to win. He urged voters to make sure that the election results are conclusive in the first round.