The Kurdish-majority provinces in Turkey are facing a “climate of war” due to their democratic choice, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Group Deputy Chairwoman Meral Danış Beştaş said on Wednesday, referring to post-election police violence in some southeastern districts.
Since the night after the elections, there have been reports that police have been regularly firing teargas into the streets and even into people’s homes in some Kurdish-majority areas, notably central Şırnak (Şirnex) and its Cizre (Cizîre) district and Mardin’s (Mêrdîn) Nusaybin (Nisêbîn) district, despite the absence of any protests, demonstrations or marches in the area. There is also footage shared on social media showing police firing guns into the air for minutes on end.
The districts where the incidents of violence have been reported coincide with the regions with the highest percentage of votes for Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader and opposition candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in Sunday’s elections, raising questions among Kurdish voters about whether these acts of violence are punitive measures against the residents of these areas.
“The people in central Şırnak and Cizre district and the whole region, including Nusaybin, are being subjected to a climate of war because of their votes,” said Beştaş, condemning ongoing, unprovoked acts of violence by security forces against civilians. “Did someone say democracy? Is there no right to free elections, no will of the people?”
Calling the recent elections “the litmus paper” of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), she vowed to protect the ballot boxes and added: “We will not let our will be ignored, we will not let it be ignored!”
Meanwhile, CHP MP for Izmir Murat Bakan shared a statement on his Twitter account on Tuesday, highlighting alleged interference by local authorities during the election. Bakan quoted a chief village guard from Silopi (Silopî) in Şırnak province, who claimed that the governor of the district had openly threatened the village guards and put pressure on them to vote for the ruling party’s candidate, stating, “The gendarme stations made a list of the ballot boxes in their jurisdiction where village guards and their families vote in the election. The governor openly threatened us by saying ‘Anyone who does otherwise will be dismissed from the village guard service’… They do not want us to vote with our own free will.”
In a separate incident, a 5-year-old child was injured after being struck by an armoured police vehicle while playing outside their house in Silopi on Tuesday night.