A Turkish prosecutor has initiated an investigation into claims recently voiced by senior opposition figures that political assassinations may take place in Turkey as the 2023 elections draw closer, local media reported on Wednesday.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Wednesday announced that an ex-officio investigation was launched by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office into opposition politicians’ statements on the likelihood of political assassinations soon taking place in Turkey.
Commenting on the development, the minister informed that both Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and the National Police Department had no intelligence regarding the likelihood of political assassinations expected to take place soon.
The claims were initially voiced by Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), who on Oct. 7 told reporters that political assassinations may take place in Turkey as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wanted to hold the 2023 elections in an environment of high tension.
Kılıçdaroğlu’s concerns were based on Erdoğan’s recent threats targeting opposition politicians. The president in May praised a pro-government group’s verbal attack on İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener in Rize, saying, “This was just the beginning; let’s see what else happens.” He also recently said it would be “better for the opposition to stop saying they want to run the country.”
Following Kılıçdaroğlu’s remarks, Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) leader Ali Babacan stated that the CHP leader was correct in his concerns, while İYİ Party deputy chair Koray Aydın said they had also heard there could be political assassinations in Turkey in advance of the 2023 elections.
Erdoğan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun was the first official who criticized the opposition figures for voicing their worries, accusing them of aiming to create a climate of fear.
Speaking during his party’s group meeting on Tuesday, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli also told Kılıçdaroğlu to “drop the horror literature” and “skip the tales of political assassination.”
Unsolved murders and enforced disappearances were frequent occurrences in the country in the 1990s, with the ruling AKP taking pride in ending them after coming to power. However, recent reports show that the problem is far from over.
According to a report by CHP deputy Alpay Antman in December, 432 murders that have occurred since the AKP came to power in 2002 remain unsolved despite the inquiries submitted by opposition deputies to parliament demanding investigations into them, which have been rejected 22 times by the AKP.
The report emphasized that there have been gross human rights violations, a regression in freedom of speech and a return to the dark days of the 1990s, which were dominated by countless unsolved murders, during the AKP rule in Turkey.