A parliamentary candidate from the opposition Green Left Party (YSP) has been detained on terrorism-related charges after being targeted by Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, the Gazete Duvar news website reported on Wednesday.
YSP candidate Ayten Dönmez was detained in İstanbul over alleged involvement in activities of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a bloody war in Turkey’s southeast since 1984 and is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.
The development came after Soylu said during a live program on 24 TV that there was “a terrorist from the mountains” on the candidate lists of the YSP, referring to Dönmez.
“She has worn the clothes of the PKK, and footage of her in the mountains is soon to be revealed,” Soylu added.
The YSP has been facing pressure since the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) announced in late March that it would run in the parliamentary elections slated for May 14 under its banner so as to circumvent the risks that could emerge from its possible closure ahead of the elections.
The HDP is facing a closure case on terrorism charges that was filed in March 2021 and could be concluded before the elections since the Constitutional Court, which is hearing the case, has rejected the HDP’s request to delay the verdict until after the elections.
Both President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), frequently accuse the HDP, the second-largest opposition group in parliament, of ties to the outlawed PKK, a claim the party denies.
Erdoğan’s accusations about the HDP and other opposition parties’ alleged links to the PKK have increased since the HDP announced its tacit support for Erdoğan’s rival, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Turkey’s main opposition leader and the joint candidate of an opposition bloc of six parties.
Erdoğan, who has been in power for 20 years, is facing his toughest challenge yet, as opinion polls show him neck-and-neck with Kılıçdaroğlu or losing to him.
The president has been held responsible for the country’s worst economic crisis in recent years and for a poor response to twin earthquakes that hit the country’s south in February, killing tens of thousands and leaving millions homeless in February.