Opposition party’s tent attacked by knife-wielding city police

A tent set up by the opposition nationalist Good Party in the west Turkish city of Manisa has been attacked by municipal police officers, one of whom was caught on film wielding a knife.

The tent was set up on an area in the city centre reserved and paid for by Good Party candidate Hasan Eryılmaz to use for campaigning until after elections are held on Jun. 24.

A team of local officers from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) controlled municipality appeared at the tent on Tuesday alongside heavy equipment, reportedly to remove the tent on the basis that it contravened zoning laws.

One of the municipal police officers pulled a knife and moved to attack as Good Party officials on the scene tried to explain that they had the necessary permits for the tent, Yeni Çağ newspaper reported.

As heavy equipment prepares to remove the Good Party tent, one officer can be seen being held back before rushing at a person in the crowd in footage of the incident shared widely on social media.

A still from the footage clearly shows the officer holding a blade.

An activist at the tent described the incident, saying the officers’ rationale for removing the tent had been illegal as it had not followed the correct procedures or been backed by a decision by the relevant official bodies.

The Good Party, which was founded last year by breakaway politicians from the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), has faced stiff opposition in the run-up to the election, starting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s decision to hold it around 18 months earlier than the expected date in November 2019.

Bringing the date forward set an obstacle for the Good Party to run in elections, since the party did not meet a requirement for parties to have held a congress at least six months in advance of the election. By allowing fifteen of its deputies to resign and join the Good Party, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) ensured its participation.

In early May, harassment of the party took concrete form as a group of MHP supporters attacked a Good Party election campaign booth in Istanbul’s Bağcılar district, leaving eight injured, some with stab wounds.