Turkey: Kurdish-majority city terrorized by gunshots, armed men strolling on the streets

Turkey: Kurdish-majority city terrorized by gunshots, armed men strolling on the streets
Update: 31 July 2022 19:38
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Armed men have stormed neighborhoods in Van, Turkey, for the second time in the last few days to intimidate the chair of a local sports club who voiced allegations against the mayor

The chair of a sports club in Turkey's Kurdish-majority city of Van, Mehmet Yildirim, released a video with gunshots and cries of terrified children and women heard on the background.

The video was posted on Twitter by Turkish daily Yenicag on Saturday, as the daily reported Yildirim saying that he was threatened by the mayor of Agri, and his armed men stormed the neighborhood where a grocery shop belonging to Yildirim's family was located, and fired in the air to intimidate him.

The video followed others that show Agri mayor Savci Sayan and dozens of armed men, some carrying assault weapons, marching through the streets of the city.

After these videos were posted on online news outlets, both the mayor and the governor's office in Van published statements, not providing any explanation about the armed group led by the mayor, but only saying that the mayor was recently subjected to an attempted assault.

The mayor said that "all news reports made by biased people and published on alleged media outlets were manufactured."

He continued:

"There has recently been an attempted https://twitter.com/AgriValilik/status/1552670166470852610ith Agri Sports Club, or with the planned visit of Kemal Kilicdaroglu [the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP)] to the city, as it has been claimed.”

The governor's office said similarly Thursday that there has been an attempted assault against Sayan on Wednesday.

Allegations against the mayor made public

Then on Friday, Mehmet Yildirim voiced a number of allegations against the mayor, saying that the manager of the sports club had been recruited a year ago by the mayor for reporting on a weekly basis to the mayor on the activities and income sources of the club.

He said that the manager, Kerem Adigüzel, deliberately delayed social security registrations for 16 football players, causing in return eight of these players to file complaints against the club and to unilaterally terminate their contracts.

Several sponsorship agreements in progress were averted by Soylu and his team who called the sponsors and convinced them into dropping the agreements.

The fund collected by the mayor’s office on behalf of the sports club was transferred to an account provided by mayor’s deputy Ahmet Tunç, never reaching the hands of the sports club. So the fund was virtually seized by the mayor.

Yıldırım also alleged that his brothers were threatened by Tunç who pulled a gun on them in front of their grocery shop, and that the mayor and the large group of armed men subsequently came in front of the grocery shop to intimidate him and prevent him from making his allegations against the mayor public.

He added that the mayor ruled the city despotically and the entire city lived in terror inflicted by the mayor and his men.

Savci Sayan: Ruling party figure in Van

Mayor Savci Sayan, the candidate of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the 2019 local election, was elected to the post with a crucial win against the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), whose candidate had won in the previous 2014 election.