Would a state set up a trap against its own citizens?

Would a state set up a trap against its own citizens?

Veysel OK

The recent trap set by the government has not only dismissed the will of Van’s people but also dismantled over a century's worth of electoral and procedural law established in the Republic. The government, through its judiciary, has rendered the citizens of Van powerless in their right to vote and elect, deeming these decisions legally and morally void.

Turkey's local elections on March 31st marked a pivotal change. For the first time in years, the AKP-MHP alliance faced significant losses in many municipalities, particularly in major cities. Meanwhile, the CHP, Yeniden Refah, and the DEM Party gained momentum by increasing their vote share and winning more provinces/districts.

While Turkey celebrated its diverse electoral map, a startling legal absurdity emerged in Van. The issue of transported voters in Bitlis and Şırnak was still unaddressed when the government, manipulating the judiciary, overruled the electoral decision in Van. The mazbat of Abdullah Zeydan, who had won by a considerable margin, was revoked.

The Van electorate's choice was overturned by judicial means.

While Turkey rejoiced over the fragmented power of the authoritarian regime and the diverse electoral map, Van was hit by a legal monstrosity.

Before we could even address the transported voters in Bitlis and Şırnak, the government usurped the choice of Van's voters through the judiciary. Abdullah Zeydan, the clear winner, was stripped of his victory through judicial manipulation.

Arrested in 2016 for alleged terrorist propaganda and support, Zeydan was released from prison on January 6, 2023, completing his sentence. His rights were reinstated by the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court on April 4, 2023, after his lawyer's application, and this decision became final on April 25, 2023.

Zeydan presented this ruling to the Supreme Electoral Board during his candidacy, leading to his official candidacy approval and inclusion in the final candidate list. In Van, 55% of the votes were cast for the DEM Party and Zeydan.

However, on the eve of the election, the Ministry of Justice disrupted this process. They sent a letter to the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, instructing them to nullify a finalized ruling from the previous year, on the grounds of a missing procedural "seen" letter.

Subsequently, in a move that upended Turkey's procedural law, the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court decided to annul a verdict finalized a year earlier.

This action shows that the state, along with its judiciary, political party, and the YSK, schemed until the last moment to strip Abdullah Zeydan and the people of Van of their electoral rights. This was a carefully orchestrated trap by the judiciary and the political sphere.

The state has ensnared its people.

Despite the procedural illegitimacy of this decision, the Van Provincial Electoral Board, prompted by the AKP Provincial Organization, awarded the mazbat not to Zeydan, who garnered 55% of the votes, but to AKP’s Abdullah Arvas, who received far fewer votes.

This action reveals a premeditated plan by the state, its judiciary, its political faction, and the YSK to deny Abdullah Zeydan’s electoral rights and the voting rights of Van's citizens.

This ploy not only neglected the will of Van's citizens but also obliterated the electoral and procedural laws developed over a century of Republican history.

The YSK's April 3 decision to reinstate Zeydan's election represents a democratic triumph, primarily for the Kurdish people and other democratic forces. It marks a historical retreat by the government since the Gezi resistance, signifying a step towards restoring democracy.

This decision by the SBE marks a move towards re-establishing lawful governance. It is hoped that the Supreme Court of Appeals and other courts will also realign their decisions with legal principles, distancing themselves from political influences.


Medya ve Hukuk Çalışmaları Derneği (MLSA) haber alma hakkı, ifade özgürlüğü ve basın özgürlüğü alanlarında faaliyet yürüten bir sivil toplum kuruluşudur. Derneğimiz başta gazeteciler olmak üzere mesleki faaliyetleri sebebiyle yargılanan kişilere hukuki destek vermektedir.