Pro-government trolls on social media have been circulating a fake photo on TikTok over the past few days, claiming that the two people in it are the opposition’s presidential candidate, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, and the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan.
“Wake up Turkey,” one of the posts on TikTok reads, adding that the 1977 photo shows Öcalan, “the killer of Turkey’s martyrs” and Kılıçdaroğlu, “his blood brother”.
According to fact-checker Teyit.org, the same altered photo was also circulated on social media in 2021 and 2022.
The photo is being widely shared once again in recent days as the Turkish government has been continuously targeting Kılıçdaroğlu over alleged ties with terrorist groups ahead of 14 May polls.
One of the men in the original photo is definitely Öcalan, however, the second man is not Kılıçdaroğlu, but Cemil Bayık, one of the founders and leaders of the PKK. However, the photo has been altered by changing the face of Bayık and using an old photo of Kılıçdaroğlu instead, Teyit has confirmed.
The photo is just one example of widespread social media manipulations observed in Turkey in the run up to the critical elections.
Fear mongering over terrorism by repeatedly stating that Kılıçdaroğlu cooperates with the PKK and its affiliated parties for an election victory has been one of the main points of propaganda of the Turkish government in its election campaign.