Meral Akşener, head of Turkey’s nationalist İYİ (Good) Party on Jan. 18 stated that the political assassinations of the past were "courageous” as she deemed the 2022 murder of Sinan Ateş “cowardly” during a campaign rally in the Central Anatolian Sivas province.
Akşener asked for the crowd’s support in the upcoming local elections and the 2028 presidential elections so that she would have the capacity to find the killers of Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu and Sinan Ateş.
Yazıcoğlu and Ateş were former heads of the far-right Grey Wolves organization. Yazıcıoğlu was the founder of the ultranationalist Great Unity Party (BBP) and died in a 2009 helicopter crash under foul play suspicions. Ateş was assassinated in 2022 by two people on a motorcycle in the capital Ankara.
Akşener described a meeting with Ateş’s family and said his daughter was constantly scared because her father was assassinated by “drug dealers.” She continued, “We saw political assassinations in the past, but they were courageous. So we were not afraid.”
Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party was among the first to criticize Akşener’s statement. Co-chair Tülay Hatimoğulları said, “What we heard today were the confessions of a killer mentality” in a social media post.
Mertlik buysa, mertliğiniz batsın!— Tülay Hatimoğulları (@TulayHatim) January 18, 2024
Kürt’ü, Alevi’yi, Ermeni’yi, sosyalisti, aydını katlederek Türkiye’yi karanlığa sürükleyenler, tarih ve toplum önünde mahkûm edilmiştir.
Düşmanlığın bile ahlakı olur ama bu karanlık şahsiyetlerin namertliği dünyaya nam saldı.
Son of Mecit Baskın, a victim of a political murder in 1993 also responded to İYİ Party head’s words. “I lost my father to your so-called courageous political assassination! As I have been demanding justice for my father for the last 30 years, your politically motivated justice system awarded the killer with acquittal,” his social media post read.
Mecit Baskın was a public officer in a registration office in the capital of Ankara. He was abducted from his workplace’s entrance, and his body was discovered two days later in 1991.
‘Mertçe işlediğiniz siyasi cinayetlerle’ kaybettim ben babamı!— Eren Baskın (@erenbaskin) January 18, 2024
Ben 30 yıldır babamın akıbetini sorarken sizin siyasi güdümdeki yargınız beraat kararı ile ödüllendirdi üstadın Mehmet Ağar’ı
Bizi eksik bıraktınız… İki elimiz yakanızda ! https://t.co/oa0EXemEC8 pic.twitter.com/OEqjswwBD8
Akşener on Jan. 19 clarified her statements upon a journalist’s question regarding the pushback. She said that she could not condone murder, and added that they were never afraid although political murders happened in her student years.
In the context of the 17th anniversary of Hrant Dink’s assassination, she added, “If today, Turkey’s citizens can be murdered with bullets to their backs just like Hrant Dink and their killers can go free, this means that cowardice has become rampant in political murders.”
Meral Akşener was the Interior Minister between 1996 and 1997, a period marked by forced disappearances and unidentified assassinations in Turkey.