Turkey’s far-right leader calls HDP employee killed in attack a ‘terrorist’

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Leader of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party Devlet Bahçeli has said a young woman who was killed in an attack on the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) office in western Turkey was a “terrorist” who was recruiting militants for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Party employee Deniz Poyraz, 38, was killed in an attack on the HDP office in İzmir last Thursday. The attack came at a time of increased pressure on the party, which is accused of links to the PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US, as it faces a closure case on terrorism charges, and when hundreds of its politicians including two former co-chairs are behind bars on politically motivated charges.

“Let me tell you who the slain Deniz Poyraz is. She was responsible for the PKK’s rural activities, a militia collaborator who took part in efforts to transfer PKK sympathizers to terrorist camps. A militia collaborator means a terrorist who tries to recruit people who appear to be lonely and without a family in towns and cities and who aids and abets the heinous activities of the terrorist organization,” Bahçeli said at a meeting of his party on Tuesday.

Slain HDP employee Deniz Poyraz

It has emerged that Onur Gencer, 27, who admittedly killed Poyraz and is currently under arrest, posted photos on social media making an ultranationalist hand gesture associated with the Grey Wolves, a far-right paramilitary group with close ties to the MHP.

Bahçeli tried to distance his party from Gencer, saying that his photos making his party’s hand gesture were circulated immediately after the attack, as if they had been prepared in advance.

The MHP has been targeting the HDP with genocidal language. Bahçeli once defined the HDP as “poisonous vermin” and repeatedly called for its closure.

In his Tuesday speech Bahçeli reiterated his call that the party be closed down and never allowed to engage in politics again.

“The fact that the HDP is no different than the PKK and the PKK is no different than the HDP will be revealed,” said Bahçeli, welcoming a step from Turkey’s Constitutional Court on Monday to accept an indictment seeking to close the party down.

“The HDP is not a party. It should be closed down. The judiciary should take the necessary action against its administrators,” said the MHP leader.

Bahçeli’s remarks attracted an angry reaction from the HDP, with its co-chairperson Pervin Buldan calling on prosecutors to take legal action against him. Buldan accused Bahçeli of using the same language as Poyraz’s killer.

“They were caught red-handed. The little partner of the government targeted Deniz and her family. It was as if he was complaining that not many HDP people were killed. We are calling on prosecutors to take action against these statements, which could pave the way for new murders,” Buldan said at a party meeting on Tuesday.

In his speech Bahçeli said it was strange that no HDP managers were in the party’s office on the day of the attack.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling AKP as well as their election partner, the MHP, have long portrayed the HDP as the political front of the PKK. The party denies links to PKK and says it is working to achieve a peaceful solution to Turkey’s Kurdish problem and is only coming under attack because of its strong opposition to Erdoğan’s 18-year rule.

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