Onur Gencer, 27, who on Thursday admittedly killed a woman in an attack on the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) office in İzmir, had posted photos of himself carrying assault rifles and made threats against HDP members, calling them “Armenian spawn.”
The HDP is the Turkish parliament’s third-largest party, which the government is trying to close over alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The party directed its anger over the attack at the government.
“After months of attacks by the ruling party and interior ministry and families being told to organize outside our provincial offices to spark provocations, there was an attack today at 10:30 a.m. on our İzmir provincial building,” it said.
Gencer, currently under arrest, claimed to be acting on his own, saying in a statement: “I am not affiliated with any group. I entered the building because I hate the PKK and fired at random.” He threatened the HDP in a social media post, expressing his resentment and promising to “make them bleed.”
The pro-Kurdish party identified the victim as Deniz Poyraz, a party official in the western province of İzmir where the morning attack occurred.
Cinayetin ayrıntıları geliyor… 3 silahlı içeri giriyor. O sırada tesadüfen sadece mutfakta çalışan genç HDP'li kadın Deniz Poyraz var. Onu ateş ederek öldürüyorlar. Binayı yakmaya çalışıyorlar. 2 saldırgan kaçıyor. Yakalanan Onur Gencer'in fb profili çok şey anlatıyor… https://t.co/y4w30sw4Gk pic.twitter.com/bQ4DpxUVxP
— Ertuğrul Kürkçü (@ekurkcuHDP) June 17, 2021
Ertuğrul Kürkçü, the honorary chair of HDP and a former lawmaker, claimed on Twitter that the attacker was not alone, that three men stormed the building and that they were planning to perpetrate a mass killing. However, no one was in the building at the time except the victim, Kürkçü said.
HDP officials stressed that the attack occurred while the building was under round-the-clock police surveillance, accusing law enforcement of turning a blind eye.
According to the Tele1 news outlet, Gencer posted a graphic photo of the victim after gunning her down as a status update on WhatsApp, saying, “Carcass number 1.”
Gencer, a healthcare worker who was reported as not showing up at work for a while, shared photos of himself holding automatic weapons on social media, according to Turkish media. The photos appear to be taken in the Syrian provinces of Manbij and Aleppo, where the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) conducted cross-border operations along with Syrian militants and seized swathes of land from Kurdish militias.
Armed photos of the assailant of HDP İzmir Provincial Organization employee Deniz Poyraz were revealed. The assailant Onur Gencer has photographs taken in Syria.
— Özgür Gündem (@OzgurrGundem) June 17, 2021
After successive military campaigns in 2016, 2018 and 2019, rights groups and international organizations accused Ankara-backed forces of perpetrating war crimes in the region as they allegedly engaged in looting and rape and carried out summary executions.
The AKP was accused of arming jihadist groups in Syria and facilitating illicit arms and oil trade in the region. These allegations have surfaced once again following the revelations of a mob boss who fled abroad after a fallout with senior government figures and started implicating people in the highest echelons of government in tell-all YouTube videos attracting millions of viewers.
HDP lawmaker Hüda Kaya claimed that Gencer was trained by SADAT, a paramilitary group established by Adnan Tanrıverdi, a former aide to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The assailant also posted photos making an ultranationalist hand gesture associated with the Grey Wolves, a far-right paramilitary group with close ties to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), an ally of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The MHP has been targeting the HDP with genocidal language. MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli defined the HDP in December 2020 as “poisonous vermin” and repeatedly called for its closure.
HDP politicians are frequently subjected to legal harassment and face terrorism charges in Turkey as the government and Erdoğan see the party as the political front of the outlawed PKK.
The chief public prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals on June 7 refiled an indictment with the Constitutional Court seeking to close down the HDP.
The court in March returned the first version of the indictment to the chief prosecutor’s office at the top appeals court for review on the grounds that there were deficiencies in the indictment.
The indictment seeks the imposition of a political ban on 451 party members as well as freezing the party’s bank accounts.
Hundreds of politicians from the party including its former co-chairs have been behind bars on politically motivated charges for several years.
Turkey’s attempt to dissolve the HDP has drawn widespread condemnation from Western allies and protests from human rights groups.