Elections in Turkey

Irregularities in Kurdish areas

Yesterday’s presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey were not fair and democratic – especially not in the Kurdish areas. As reported by the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), two members of a Spanish election observation delegation were arrested in the Kurdish province Siirt on election day. “In the Kurdish province Sirnak, Turkish security forces are said to have indiscriminately fired tear gas into streets and residential areas. Also, armed Erdogan-supporters are said to have opened fire indiscriminately,” stated Dr. Kamal Sido, the STP’s Middle East Consultant. “The military and armed Erdogan-supporters were trying to intimidate the people to stop them from casting their vote in the elections – as most of the Kurds see opposition candidate Kilicdaroglu as the lesser evil.” Even though the majority of the Kurds in Turkey is not exactly fond of the opposition – which is not in favor of a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question – the Kurds want political change in Turkey.

While opposition candidate Kilicdaroglu’s politics are based on the secular but extremely Turkish-nationalist ideas of state founder Atatürk, Erdogan’s strategy is rooted in aggressive Turkish nationalism and also in Sunni Islamism. During the election campaign, Erdogan had repeatedly played the Sunni-Islamist card – agitating against the Alevi people in Turkey. Erdogan is a Sunni Muslim, whereas Kilicdaroglu belongs to the population group of the Alevis. Erdogan was also able to rely on support from international Sunni Islamists. In the run-up to the elections, the leader of the International Union of the Muslim Scholars (IUMS), Ali Al-Qaradaghi, and around 65 other Islamists all over the world called on the believers in Turkey to vote for Erdogan and his AKP Party. “Al-Qaradaghi is a Kurd from Sulaymaniya in Iraqi Kurdistan, but he is a Qatari citizen – like the leaders of the IUMS – and he supports Erdogan and the Emir of Qatar,” Sido explained. “The IUMS is known for agitating against the Alevis, Yazidis, and the Christians, but also against the Jews and Israel.” Further, the IUMS finances Islamist settlements, for example in Yazidi villages in the Syrian-Kurdish region of Afrin, which has been occupied by Turkey since 2018.

In the Kurdish areas of Turkey, the Turkish military, the gendarmerie, and the police forces have always ruled with a hard hand. After the failed coup attempt in 2016, the few remaining Kurdish media were banned – and thousands of media workers, elected mayors, and other representatives of the people were locked up for many years. Shortly before the elections, the pro-Kurdish party HDP was threatened with a ban. This is why the HDP had to take part in the elections via the lists of another party – the “Yesil Sol Parti”. In the run-up to the elections, Turkish security forces had repeatedly carried out raids against Kurdish election campaigners, and many of them were arrested.