PKK physically assaults journalist assessing election atmosphere in eastern Turkey
by Merve Aydoğan
ANKARAMay 22, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Merve Aydoğan
May 22, 2015 12:00 am
The PKK continue to kidnap people, attack ruling party buildings and threaten people in predominantly Kurdish populated areas, a tactic that is interpreted by experts as an attempt to gain more votes for the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which adopts a "peaceful" stance in western Turkey.
Gürkan Ata, who is a journalist at the Turkish Akşam daily, was first abducted and physically assaulted by PKK members as he travelled to the eastern provinces of Ağrı and Van with the aim of assessing the region prior to the elections. As the HDP's Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş continues to make statements, the aim of which has been defined as "to instill hatred and divergence in the elections" by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, the recent attacks by the PKK have raised concerns about pre-election violence.
Prior to the June 7 general elections, journalist Ata travelled to the eastern provinces of Van and Ağrı in an effort to report on the pressure on locals being threatened by PKK members to cast their votes for the pro-Kurdish HDP. He said that since the day he entered the city, he was closely followed and felt threatened by the PKK. Explaining that the PKK has established a "threat team," Ata says that as he began to take photos in the street, he was abducted by team members, who forced him to delete the pictures. He also said that he was physically assaulted as the PKK members were questioning him and interrogating him.
In early May 2015, the HDP placed a controversial advertisement showing blood flowing from a tap on billboards where the images carried out 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." While the municipality said that the advertisements by the city water and sewage management authority VASKİ aimed to raise awareness on water usage and drought, Ata said that the locals have been placed in a "nightmare mood" due to threats.
Speaking to locals in Turkey's eastern provinces, Ata said that locals claimed they would first be approached by PKK members whereupon they would demand a vote for the HDP, and continue threatening locals by saying "consider it as your end if you vote for the Justice and Development Party (AK Party)." Recent reports have also indicated the PKK sent letters to homes in predominantly Kurdish populated regions in southeastern Turkey threatening people to cast their votes for the HDP, which regularly sends delegations to meet senior PKK members in northern Iraq.
Although the AK Party government is maintaining its devoted efforts to push the reconciliation process forward with displays of determination to bring peace to the region and resolve the Kurdish question, the AK Party office in the eastern province of Batman as well as another AK Party headquarters in the eastern province of Mardin were hit by bomb blasts on Wednesday, and the militants torched vehicles to block the construction of a road in Bingöl on Tuesday, aiming to create pre-election violence.
While Demirtaş accused the ruling party over the simultaneous explosions at the two HDP provincial headquarters in the southern provinces of Adana and Mersin, Prime Minister Davutoğlu criticized Demirtaş and said the attacks were carried out by a Revolutionary Peoples Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) terrorist. Furthermore, Vedat Büyükersoy, the governor of Muş province, has announced that the soldier and civilian personnel, who were kidnapped by the PKK in the eastern province of Muş on Wednesday, were received by the security forces late on Thursday. Büyükersoy said that the investigation regarding the matter will continue.