Canan Kaftancıoğlu, the head of the Istanbul operations of Turkey’s opposition party, has been sentenced to 9 years in prison for tweets from many years ago. The opposition figure became very popular after the Istanbul’s mayoral elections, defeating Erdoğan’s ruling party. After the election, old tweets were dug up which were critical about the Turkish government. She was sentenced to 3 years for “spreading terrorist propaganda” and 6.5 years for “insulting the president.”
In March, Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party had been expecting wins in mayoral elections for Istanbul and Ankara, but Kaftancıoğlu was standing in front of this party and their plans.
In the end, the Justice and Development party was outvoted by 100 thousand votes in Ankara, and they were outvoted by only a few thousands of votes in Istanbul. The results shocked the party who refused to accept them and applied to overturn the election.
Turkey’s election authorities, the High Selection Board (YSK), granted their request, cancelling the election results and setting a new election five weeks later.
Canan Kaftancıoğlu became even more active in this second campaign, speaking out passionately on every media platform. She showed her passion and opinion with comments like, “An election can not be cancelled. I have already started to get ready for the upcoming election which is 5 years later.”
Turkish President Erdoğan criticized her sharply, calling both her actions and herself, personally, “terrible.”
Then the second election day came. All citizen’s eyes watched the results come in on the news channels: Kaftancıoğlu’s Republican Party was victorious, gaining one million more votes than the first election.
Although the municipal election had been settled definitively, the Turkish government started to apply increased scrutiny to the members of Republican People’s Party, especially Kaftancıoğlu. They turned up old tweets of hers from 2015 which they used to accuse her of “insulting the president”and “spreading terror propaganda.”
The laws of Turkey do not allow people to comment about the Turkish president or government. Canan Kaftancıoğlu had tweeted: “It’s not a state, it’s a serial killer.”
She also tweeted “The history of the mankind starts with a woman. Humanity loses due to things done to women,” quoting a member of the PKK, which the Turkish government considers a terrorist organization. The government argued this amounts to spreading terrorist propaganda.
However, the law calls for just 3 years in prison.
Journalist Ahmet Hakan, considers her punishment to be politically motivated, considering that these tweets are 4 years old, were found by government agents well after the fact, and did not come to light until after this disappointing municipal election.
Erdoğan himself said about Kaftancıoğlu, “These kinds of people can not be free.”
Image Credit: Wikipedia