Turkey: Erdoğan’s Unofficial Paramilitary Groups to ‘Monitor’ Elections?

A Turkish government memo related to the upcoming mayoral elections in Turkey is causing deep concern among oppositionists throughout the country.

The memo, sent by the Interior Ministry to the country’s governors, states that in the March 31 elections, in addition to police and security officials manning the polls and taking the necessary “precautions required for election security,” there will also be “volunteer security guards” involved.

The reason this announcement is worrisome to opposition activists, among others, has to do with what they suspect is the nature and makeup of these “volunteers” — particularly with the rise of unofficial paramilitary groups connected to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

One dissident author, İnci Hekimoğlu, likened the establishment of these groups to the Village Guards, a paramilitary force established in the 1980s by the Turkish military to combat the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) insurgency in eastern Turkey.

via Turkey: Erdoğan’s Unofficial Paramilitary Groups to ‘Monitor’ Elections?

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