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German police tell former MP he’s on hit list targeting gov’t critics in exile

Former MP Hasip Kaplan

The German Federal Police have warned Hasip Kaplan, a former lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), of a planned assassination targeting him based on a hit list that includes the names of 55 critics of the Turkish government living in exile.

“The German police called me and said my name is on an assassination list. I told them that my name has been there for 40 years so it’s not anything new,” Kaplan tweeted on Sunday.

Kaplan, also a lawyer, served in the Turkish Parliament from 2007 to 2018 under the banner of pro-Kurdish parties, the last being the HDP. Kaplan has been living in exile in Germany amid an ongoing crackdown on Kurdish politicians in Turkey.

Earlier this month, a pro-government social media account named “Jitemkurt” published a list of Turkish journalists living in Europe and North America whom they plan to assassinate.

The account published the names of 21 journalists resident in various countries and threatened to kill them. The name of the social media account refers to a group linked to the notorious gendarmerie intelligence unit JITEM.

Later, another hit list emerged which included the names of 55 critics of the Turkish government who live in exile. Politicians and artists are included on the new list in addition to journalists.

Last week Celal Başlangıç, the editor-in-chief of Artı TV and the Artı Gerçek news website, announced that he was also warned by the German police about his name being on an assassination list.

Meanwhile, Erk Acarer, a Turkish journalist critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government who has been living in exile in Germany, also announced on Twitter last week that he had received a threat, a piece of paper with “You just wait” written on it, which he said was wrapped around a boiled egg and thrown into the garden of his house in Berlin.

Acarer was the victim of an attack “with knives and fists” in the courtyard of his apartment building in Berlin on June 7, an incident that led to widespread concerns about the safety of government critics abroad.

Turkish journalists are often targeted and jailed for their journalistic activities. Turkey is one of the world’s biggest jailers of professional journalists and ranked 153rd among 180 countries in terms of press freedom in 2021, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

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