Turkish nationalist storms office of Peoples’ Democratic Party in Izmir, murders 20-year-old woman

IZMIR, Turkey — On Thursday, a man stormed the office of pro-minority Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and shot and killed 20-year-old Deniz Poyraz in Izmir. The HDP blamed the killing on a government crackdown that has increased this year. Poyraz had been covering the shift of her mother at the office, said the HDP.

The assailant, identified by local police as Onur Gencer, reportedly tried to set the building on fire before killing Poyraz and told police in a statement that he carried out the act out of hatred for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been in armed conflict with the Turkish state since the 1980s.

Gencer likely intended to kill many more people. A book launch scheduled for Thursday was postponed. He took a bloody photo of Poyraz’s body, the only person in the HDP office at the time and shared it as a WhatsApp status photo. Under the photograph was the caption “corpse 1”.

Photos posted by Gencer, a “healthcare worker”, to social media show him in Syria posing with weapons and making the hand sign for the Grey Wolves, a pan-Turkic ultranationalist organization closely linked to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The European Union is considering whether to add the Grey Wolves to its list of terrorist organizations. The group is already banned in France.

The HDP, Turkey’s third largest party, has been under increased attack in recent months, with President Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) nationalist supporters seeking to disband the party over the false claims that the party is connected to the PKK.

The HDP denies any links to the PKK.

“The instigator and abettor of this brutal attack is the AKP-MHP government and the Interior Ministry, which constantly targets our party and our members,” the HDP said on its website.

The grieving mother of Poyraz cried “give us a rest” and blamed “fascists” for the killing, video footage showed.