The deputy leader of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and a pro-government journalist have insulted the voters of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) as part of the renewed pressure on the party.
AKP deputy chair Mehmet Özhaseki and journalist Nedim Şener directly targeted six million HDP voters, with the former damning them and the latter calling them "bullets in the weapons" of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
"Damn their votes! May God damn their votes!" Özhaseki said during a speech in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri on Feb. 20.
"The HDP never said, 'Damn the PKK' in parliament. The main opposition keeps acting like their spokespeople. You join inappropriate alliances in order to get votes in elections. Damn your votes. We need to state these in every opportunity," he said, referring to the alliances formed among the opposition prior to the elections.
The government launched a fresh propaganda campaign against the HDP following the deaths of 13 Turkish nationals, including soldiers, police and intelligence personnel, held captive by the PKK in northern Iraq's Gara. It then expanded its campaign and began targeting the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) as well.
While Turkish authorities say that the 13 Turks were killed by the PKK amid a military operation, the opposition has been asking who is responsible for the failed rescue mission.
Shortly after Özhaseki's remarks, HDP spokesperson Ebru Günay said that no one has the right to damn six million voters, adding that those voters will make the AKP lose power in the elections.
Sorumlusu olduğunuz ölümlerin daha acısı taze iken hesap vermek yerine bir halka, 6 milyon seçmene beddua okumak... Ne derseniz deyin herkes gerçeğin farkında, bela okuduğunuz halk sandıkta selânızı okuyacak, gideceksiniz.— Ebru Günay (@av_ebrugunay) February 20, 2021
Ayrıca Bir halka beddua okumak kimsenin haddi değildir! https://t.co/ecbh9n1tIl
The CHP also condemned Özhaseki, with CHP Kayseri deputy Çetin Arık saying that the government is trying to change the country's agenda to cover up its mistakes in the rescue operation.
Also on Feb. 20, Nedim Şener prompted outrage among the opposition for calling HDP voters "bullets in the PKK's Kalashnikovs."
"The PKK's political wing is the HDP. Whoever cooperates with the HDP has that mud and blood on them. It's clear. Those who vote for the HDP are bullets in the PKK's Kalashnikovs," Şener said during a TV program on CNN Türk.
"It means that six million people are spraying bullets on me and my soldiers. People should pull themselves together," he said, while denying that he demonizes HDP voters.