Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has urged citizens to vote for him and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in elections slated for June of next year to “avenge” the death of a 5-year-old boy who was killed in a terrorist attack earlier this week, local media reported on Friday.
Five rockets fired from Syria towards Turkey on Monday killed two people, a five-year-old and a teacher, and injured six others in Gaziantep’s Karkamış district in the country’s southeast.
The attack came after Turkey carried out airstrikes on the bases of Kurdish militants across northern Syria and Iraq a day earlier, killing at least 31 people, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The president on Friday spoke at a public event held on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and asked citizens to support him and his party in the upcoming elections so as “not to leave the death of the boy unavenged.”
“When I say, ‘Let’s not leave the … martyred baby’s death unavenged,’ [I mean] … let’s not leave it unavenged at the ballot box, either,” he said.
Erdoğan also once again equated the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the country’s second-largest opposition group in parliament, with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in his speech.
“We cannot ignore the extensions of this organization in our parliament. They have nothing left to say in the name of democracy. … I believe that in the 2023 elections my nation, with its Kurds, Turks and Laz, will give them the best democratic answer at the ballot box,” he said.
As part of its political strategy in Turkey’s west, the HDP in 2019 sat out the mayoral races in big cities and urged its supporters to cast strategic votes for the Nation Alliance, consisting of several opposition parties including the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
Partly due to the support of Kurdish voters, the CHP was able to defeat the governing AKP in a number of major cities, including Ankara and İstanbul, during the 2019 local elections.
Erdoğan has long portrayed the HDP as the political front of the PKK. The party denies links to the PKK and says it is working to achieve a peaceful solution to Turkey’s Kurdish issue and is only coming under attack because of its strong opposition to Erdoğan’s 20-year rule.
Critics accuse Erdoğan of trying to increase the nationalist sentiment in the country in order to get more votes in next year’s elections at a time when the country’s people are suffering financially due to record inflation of more than 85 percent and declining support for Erdoğan.