Following the outlawed PKK reportedly threatening locals to vote for the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in the June 7 general elections, some deputy candidates from eastern Turkey said that people in the region are under serious pressure as the PKK seeks to prevent them from exercising their democratic rights.
With eight days left until the critical general elections in which the HDP is looking to pass the 10 percent election threshold to enter Parliament as a party, the PKK continues to kidnap people, attack ruling party buildings and threaten people in predominantly Kurdish-populated areas, tactics that are interpreted by experts as an attempt to gain more votes for the HDP.
Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Diyarbakır deputy candidate, Alaattin Parlak, in comments to Anadolu Agency (AA), said that voters in the region are under serious pressure: " People are restless. They are threatened."
He added that these sorts of pressures have nothing to do with the tradition of democracy.
Asserting that the main reason behind the pressure is the HDP's fear of not being able to pass the election threshold, Parlak said: "It is not sincere to portray a peaceful, sympathetic image in the west, but opposite attitudes in the east."
Zekeriya Yapıcıoğlu, an independent deputy candidate supported by the conservative Kurdish Free Cause Party (Hüda-Par), openly said that in villages, people are being pressured to vote for the HDP.
Describing this pressure as a huge threat to voters, Yapıcıoğlu said: "There is no such thing that if [the HDP] passes the threshold, it will be heaven for people, but hell if they do not manage to do so. In fact, we can say the opposite. When they [the HDP] get more votes, they turn life [for locals] into hell. We want citizens to vote with their freewill."
He further said that the HDP hangs banners in some regions in eastern Turkey, saying that it is forbidden and dangerous to vote for parties other than the HDP.
Opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Diyarbakır deputy candidate, Mehmet Teyar Karakoç, said that the government should take steps against the threats in the region as the elections approach.
"In many parts of Diyarbakır, PKK groups put village headmen under pressure either with arms or not. They say, 'If one vote is given to parties other than the HDP, we will destroy your homes and abduct your children.' "
Karakoç asserted that he has not managed to hang banners or talk with locals in the region, claiming that the PKK hinders him renting the election offices he asked for.
Abdullah Arzakçı, an independent Diyarbakır deputy, said that he has visited all the towns in the Diyarbakır region and people there are quiet as there is open pressure on them.
The PKK, which was expected to announce its disarmament before the June elections as its imprisoned leader Abdullah Öcalan ordered in his annual Nevruz message, have not done so, leading to a setback in the reconciliation process between Ankara and the Kurds while it was about to reach a conclusion. Rather than laying down its arms, the PKK keeps igniting aggression in eastern provinces while at the same time, HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş's democratic rhetoric continues to appeal to voters in western Turkey. The HDP met with the PKK in armed celebration in early April, which was perceived as disbelief in democracy due to the HDP's support in the upcoming elections under the shadow of weapons. In early May 2015, the HDP placed a controversial advertisement showing blood flowing from a tap on billboards carrying messages such as "Take measures," "Aren't you afraid?" "Let's not prepare our end," "Is it that worthless?" "It will end one day," "Are you aware?" "The end is not too far if you don't claim it" and "Let's not be short of breath."
The PKK is a terrorist organization that took up arms against Turkey in the 1980s in an attempt to carve out an independent Kurdistan in southeastern Turkey. It is listed as a terrorist organization by the EU, U.S. and Turkey.
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