Turkish court arrests assailant after deadly attack on pro-Kurdish party office

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A court in İzmir has arrested an assailant who killed a party employee in an attack on a provincial office of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) early on Thursday, Turkish media reported on Friday.

Onur Gencer, 27, was arrested by a criminal court of peace for admittedly killing Deniz Poyraz, an HDP official in the western province of İzmir where Thursday’s attack took place.

While in custody, Gencer claimed to be acting on his own. “I am not affiliated with any group. I entered the building because I hate the PKK and fired at random,” he said in a statement. The assailant formerly threatened the HDP in a social media post, expressing his resentment and promising to “make them bleed.”

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.”

A healthcare worker who was reported as not showing up at work for a while, Gencer shared photos of himself holding automatic weapons on social media, according to Turkish media. The photos appear to have been 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.

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.

Following the allegations, SADAT on Friday released a statement condemning the killing of Poyraz by a “furious terrorist hired as a hitman” as well as Kaya’s claims against them, which are described in the statement as “provocation by way of a sad incident.”

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.

Politicians of the HDP, the Turkish parliament’s third-largest party, 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 Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The government is currently trying to close the pro-Kurdish party over alleged links to the PKK, with the chief public prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals refiling an indictment with the Constitutional Court towards that end on June 7.

Meanwhile, local media reported that police took a week’s worth of security camera footage from shops and workplaces near the HDP office where the attack occurred and only returned the cameras to the shopkeepers after they had deleted all the footage without presenting any legal justification.

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