After an indictment against Kurdish MP Semra Güzel was delivered to the Turkish parliament on Wednesday, government media Yeni Safak came out with a headline on Thursday which read: ‘There are 18 more Semra Güzels in the parliament.’
The headline simply called for the indictment of 18 more MPs on the same charges.
The daily went on to accuse a group of other MPs merely on grounds that they reportedly had family members or close relatives who were allegedly members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), designated a ‘terrorist group’ in Turkey.
The lead under the headline of Yeni Şafak read:
“People in Turkey have been talking about the photos of HDP’s Diyarbakır deputy Semra Güzel and her fiancée Volkan Bora, taken at PKK camps. Yet, Güzel isn’t the only MP who seems to be a PKK representative. 17 MPs out of the 56 MPs for HDP have either a spouse or a sibling or a close relative who is a PKK fighter.”
Semra Güzel has been indicted on a charge of being ‘member of an illegal organisation’ solely based on one photograph showing her with her fiancée back in 2014, a PKK member named Volkan Bora who was later reportedly killed in action.
Güzel was elected to the Turkish parliament in 2018 as a Diyarbakır (Amed) deputy for the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP).
Another pro government media, the daily Sabah, came out with a headline quoting Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan saying, ‘They made CHP a foot soldier of Qandil’ in a speech when he accused the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) leader of being ‘a paper tiger’ against PKK, based in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Under the headline it read, “We don’t want that woman, HDP’s Semra Güzel who is an extension of the PKK, in the parliament. Why are CHP and İP silent? We will do what we are required to do.”
The eight-year-old photo of Güzel is apparently being used to fuel anti-Kurdish sentiments in Turkey while a legal case for the dissolution of HDP is already in process, though without any convincing evidence.
The clamour around the photo is also likely to refresh efforts to distance HDP from the opposition alliance formed by CHP and Iyi party (IP).
It was HDP’s support in the 2019 local elections that enabled CHP to win in Turkey’s two largest cities, Istanbul and Ankara, which had been governed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) since 1994.