Turkish opposition headquarters attacked by gunfire

The "Democracy and Progress" party assures that, despite the attack, "they will not remain silent"
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PHOTO/PRESIDENCIA TURCA via AP  -   Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the media after Friday prayers, in Istanbul, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021.

Turkey is once again witnessing an attack on democracy. In this case, the opposition party "Democracy and Progress" has suffered an attack on its headquarters at the hands of a hooded man who shot at the party building. Its leader and former economy minister, Ali Babacan, has assured that "the party's lawyers will follow the incident closely, so that we know who the perpetrators are, and we do not remain silent". Babacan's words show a strong stance against the continuous attacks on opposition parties to Recep Tayyip Erdogan's regime.

According to local sources, a man fired a pistol at the headquarters of "Democracy and Progress", located in the Arnavutköy district of Istanbul. Surveillance cameras reportedly captured the escape of the man who left the scene before the authorities could arrive. The party leader added that "they will stay behind the case until they know what the purpose of the attack is, what the target of the attack is". He said they would "follow the process closely together. It is not appropriate to make a statement before the incident has been clarified in all its aspects".

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AFP/ADEM ALTAN - A group of people stand behind a banner reading in Turkish "We cannot breathe. Journalism cannot be drowned", during a rally in front of the Ankara governor's office on 29 June 2021.

This event represents a new chapter of intimidation against anything that does not fall in line with the dictates of the government. Erdogan's government has been accused on numerous occasions of waging a fierce battle against freedom of expression and criticism, both by political parties and the media. Even on this occasion, several prominent figures have not hesitated to point the finger at the government as the driving force behind this serious attack on Turkish democracy. However, as Ali Babacan has pointed out, the party remains calm and does not want to make accusations without first investigating the facts.

The Turkish opposition has been harshly criticising the government for its continuous attempts to silence criticism of its management. This is not the first time that political headquarters or politicians themselves have been attacked, according to opposition parties, as a warning to provoke them to abandon the path of criticism. Anti-Rep Tayyip Erdogan groups have accused the rulers of even fabricating cases for various politicians and writers and sentencing them to invalid sentences in order to put them behind bars. Some of the most prominent examples of this are Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-chair of the Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, and Osman Kavala, a prominent businessman and human rights activist.

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REUTERS/UMIT BEKTAS - In response to the police arrest of photographer Bulent Kilic for covering the banned Pride parade on June 26, media workers gather in protest against pressure on freedom of expression and journalism in Istanbul, Turkey June 29, 2021.

The controversy surrounding the government continues unabated. Recently, Turkish university students staged a sit-in protest in Istanbul denouncing the rising rents for student houses and housing. In response, the Turkish president urged young people to "take care of the expenses, instead of nagging about house rents", which has generated a lot of criticism, including from the Republican People's Party. Its leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, denounced via his Twitter account that "Erdogan does not have a shred of love, he hates his people, he cannot serve the youth, that's why he scolds them".

Tension around the executive, and especially President Erdogan, is growing. Every measure taken from Istanbul is scrutinised by a society that lives in fear of expressing an opinion that is not in line with the government's wishes. And the Turkish population itself knows better than anyone the way of acting of a president who has done - and continues to do - everything in his power to maintain control of all kinds of information that reaches the people of the country over which he presides, with the sole aim of perpetuating his power.