Police chiefs have reportedly been given instructions to prevent the Oy ve Ötesi (Vote and Beyond) Association from accessing polling stations in Turkey, according to journalist Barış Pehlivan.
The association, which has been targeted by Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, is a non-governmental organisation dedicated to election security and monitors the results of ballot boxes with a network of volunteers.
Pehlivan revealed that a special team has been assigned in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir to carry out this task. These are all major cities where opposition candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has high support, raising concerns about the team’s interference with the volunteers who have the right to observe the voting process.
In his article “Special duty for police chiefs in the election”, published in Cumhuriyet daily, Pehlivan emphasised that police chiefs were specifically instructed not to allow observers from Oy ve Ötesi near the polling stations. He further explained that a significant number of police chief inspectors would be present at schools in these three major cities during the upcoming presidential run-off election on 28 May.
Pehlivan raised concerns about the purpose behind these instructions, pointing out that 61 police chief inspectors were assigned to schools in 19 districts of Istanbul alone. He stated, “According to verbal instructions given to the police chiefs, the observers coming through Oy ve Ötesi should not be allowed near the polling stations.”
The journalist highlighted that the interior minister made this special assignment primarily in schools located in large cities where there is a high potential for support for Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. Pehlivan expressed his belief that top-tier police chiefs would make efforts to prevent the legal observers associated with Oy ve Ötesi from approaching the polling stations in these schools. He concluded by stating that the consequences of such decisions would be determined through the votes cast on 28 May.