A member of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has threatened, on social media, to kill Ekrem Imamoglu, the ousted mayor of Istanbul, Gazete Duvar news portal reported on Sunday.
Onder Gokcekaya, the AKP candidate who was up for nomination in Ankara’s Etimesgut district mayor’s office posted a threatening picture of himself holding weapons in his hands on Facebook on June 6.
“We are waiting for orders from our minister Soylu”, Gokcekaya said on Facebook. “If he says, ‘shoot him,’ we shoot him. If he says, ‘kill him,’ we kill him,” he said, referring to Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, who is assumed to give the orders for Imamoglu’s fate.
“We don’t care about terrorists,” Gokcekaya added, accusing CHP’s Imamoglu of being a terrorist.
On June 7, Gokcekaya threatened Imamoglu again. “I will send Uncle Osman to you,” he said, sharing a photo of him with Osman Sarigun, the man who attacked CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu at a soldier’s funeral in April.
Gokcekaya previously drew a reaction from critical politicians and intellectuals for kissing Sarigun’s hands – the same hands that punched Kilicdaroglu at the funeral.
Nine suspects were briefly detained following the attack on Kilicdaroglu, and Sarigun became a national symbol of political polarization as ruling AKP supporters started treating him as a hero, to the fury of the opposition.
Gokcekaya posted the photo of himself with Sarigun on social media shortly after Soylu’s claims that Imamoglu helps members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to infiltrate Istanbul.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as some other AKP members, including minister Soylu, have been accusing opposition parties of supporting the PKK militants and targeting their leaders and members.
The Turkish government deems PKK, an armed group that has been fighting for self-rule in the predominantly Kurdish region southeast of Turkey since 1984, a terrorist organization.
Imamoglu had to quit office as the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor after less than a month of service due to a ruling by Turkey’s Supreme Election Council (YSK) to annul Istanbul’s mayoral elections and to hold a rerun on June 23.
YSK’s decision followed appeals submitted by the AKP that included claims of widespread voting irregularities during the mayoral elections.