Islamist TV presenter discusses hanging Turkish opposition leader

A presenter on Akit TV, a fundamentalist Islamist television channel known for its support of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), has raised the prospect of executing Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the secularist main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Turkish citizens are eager to see the execution of several figures even though the death penalty was repealed in Turkey in 2004, Akit TV presenter Mehmet Özmen said, standing in front of a decommissioned gallows in Ulucanlar prison museum in the Turkish capital city of Ankara.

These include Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought Turkish security forces for Kurdish self-rule since 1984, and Fethullah Gülen, whose religious movement is blamed for orchestrating the failed coup attempt in July 2016, Özmen said.

Ankara lists both the PKK and the Gülen religious movement as terrorist organisations.

“I believe they (Turkish citizens) also expect figures like Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who take the side of and nurture the PKK and Gülen movement, to be hanged on these gallows,” Özmen said.

With over 17 million votes – almost 34 percent of the total number cast – the CHP’s electoral alliance with the centre right nationalist Good Party and Islamist Saadet Party was the runner-up in last year’s parliamentary elections.

Özmen’s report did not cite any studies on the Turkish public's views regarding the death penalty.

The topic of reinstating the penalty was brought to the agenda by the AKP shortly after the failed coup in 2016, when Erdoğan suggested a motion could be passed to bring back executions as punishment for those accused of plotting the coup.

On Tuesday the Turkish president said it had been a “mistake” to abolish the death penalty in 2004, while he was serving as prime minister, and said he would approve any law passed by parliament to reinstate it.

Yeni Akit’s report on the same day echoed rhetoric frequently employed by Erdoğan and other high-ranking AKP officials in the run-up to local elections on March 31, accusing opposition politicians of being in league with “terrorists”.