Turkish prosecutors are demanding prison sentences of 15 years for 29 people in relation to an investigation into terrorism at a district municipality controlled by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in the southern province of Adana.
Funda Buyruk, the deputy mayor of Seyhan district, is among those accused of allowing the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to use a municipal building for its activities.
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claim that the CHP has been implicitly cooperating with the PKK through close relations with the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP).
The government has been making efforts to link the CHP and the PKK, and these efforts have escalated as Turkey prepares for elections in 2023.
The CHP and the HDP will compete under different alliances for parliamentary seats in the 2023 elections, though Kurdish votes will be crucial for the CHP to remove Erdoğan from power after a 20-year rule.
The Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu acts as Erdoğan’s right-hand man in efforts to persuade the public that Turkey’s main opposition party is cooperating with the PKK, by using the ministry’s powers to initiate investigations into municipalities.
On 26 November Soylu announced the results of investigations conducted between 2019 and 2022. According to the minister, some 1,668 people recruited by the Istanbul Municipality since 2019, when Ekrem İmamoğlu of the CHP won the mayoral election, are associated with the PKK. The minister also targeted the metropolitan municipalities of İzmir and of the southern provinces of Mersin and Adana, all controlled by the opposition, over alleged PKK ties.
Following local elections in 2019, the government used charges of terrorism to depose elected HDP mayors and replace them with appointed ones. Although the government has repeatedly attempted to criminalise the CHP by linking it with the PKK, it has so far not resorted to removing CHP mayors from office.