The Turkey Human Rights Foundation (TİHV) has compiled a report of the rights violations that took place before and during the local elections on 29 March this year.
According to the report, 26 people died and 370 people were injured. In addition, there were 99 detentions and 79 arrests which the foundation evaluated as violations of the freedoms of expression, gathering and demonstrating.
Attacks against parties
In the two months preceding the election, there were also 95 attacks on political parties or their members. Of these, 45 were against the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP), 22 against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), 15 against the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), and seven against the second opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
Of the attacks against the DTP, 10 occured in the east of the country, while 35 were in the west. Two attacks against the AKP were in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakır, while the other 20 were in the west of Turkey.
The foundation found it worrying that the DTP, which only had a chance of winning in the eastern and southeastern provinces anyway, faced so many attacks in the west.
Citing the details about the attacks against the AKP, it dismissed the party's claims that it was being targeted in the East.
Candidates competing for profits
According to the TİHV, one cause of the tension was a change in laws prior to the elections, particularly the Law on Province Special Administration, which offers the administrations more authorities and resources.
Thus, the province general assemblies have turned from institutions which gathered twic a year under the leadership of the province governor into a decision-making body with its own head and special authorities. This has made it possible for people in the administration to favour their political cronies.
The competition for these profitable positions in the province administration led to more tension between candidates.
The report further criticised that the elections had been overshadowed by issues of reliability. First of all, 6 million new voters had been put on the list by using a new method of identification. Second, the AKP was found to have used "charitable" donations of coal and white goods. Former Minister of Justice Mehmet Ali Şahin was quoted in the press as saying, "Local authorities who quarrel with our government will not pass their projects in Ankara."
The TİHV further argued that the AKP's style of debate added to the tensions. Prime Minister Erdoğan was accused of being tense and angry. The foundation further accused the AKP of putting pressure on the DTP after the elections. (TK/AG)
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From Turkey Post 23 October 2001