Turkey’s ruling party attempts to manipulate public opinion by portraying the Kurdish population as terrorists in order to gain an advantage in the upcoming elections, said Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, presidential candidate for the opposition’s six-party Nation Alliance, on Monday.
“My dear people, in recent years, whenever we talked about elections, whenever the Palace saw that it was going to lose the elections, the Kurds were labelled as terrorists,” Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said in a video he posted on Twitter with the caption “Kurds.”
Kılıçdaroğlu accused the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of using social media trolls to target the CHP leader ahead of the upcoming elections, emphasising that Kurds are “treated as terrorists” every day because trolls spread misinformation and manipulate public opinion.
Kılıçdaroğlu was referring to an ongoing social media smear campaign that intensified after Turkey’s top pro-Kurdish opposition, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), decided to back Kılıçdaroğlu rather than nominate their own candidate in the presidential elections.
Trolls claim that the HDP and CHP are linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). After the CHP leader met with HDP and vowed to peacefully end the Kurdish conflict on his election, the smear campaign intensified.
“Remember the fellowship between us. Absolutely do not forget this. There is a destiny that makes Turks and Kurds brothers,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, urging everyone not to fall for the AKP’s propaganda against Kurds.
“I will never, ever allow anyone to harm this fellowship for a few votes. We are almost there,” he concluded.
Turkey’s ruling AKP party has long been accused of using social media trolls to target opposition figures and spread false information in an attempt to discredit them. The trolls have also been accused of suppressing dissenting voices on social media and manipulating public opinion by amplifying pro-government messages.