Erdoğan’s coup accusations fuel death, rape threats against opposition figures

Supporters of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) began harassing political opposition figures by creating social media hashtags that unleashed death and rape threats following a novel coup conspiracy.

Turkish opposition figures have found themselves accused of inciting a coup in a fresh onslaught by AKP members and pro-government media.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on May 4 the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) depicted "a fascist mindset that cannot stomach the supremacy of the national will, democracy, justice and elections, and is still yearning and burning for tutelage, coups and juntas”.

He accused the political party of seeking to usurp governmental power through a coup.

Following Erdoğan's statements, pro-government media figure Sevda Noyan said on a TV programme last Friday her family could "take out 50 people" to support the Turkish president in the event of a coup attempt against him.

Islamist journalist Fatih Tezcan, another vocal supporter of Erdoğan, echoed a similar attitude on May 11, when he threatened the lives of women and children linked to hypothetical coup conspirators.

"The blood of millions will spill for a single drop of Erdoğan’s blood,” Tezcan said in a video he shared online.

Spurred by pro-government figures, thousands of AKP supporters have targeted prominent opposition figures, including Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoğlu, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, CHP Istanbul chairwoman Canan Kaftancıoğlu, former co-chair of pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party Figen Yüksekdağ and journalist Nevşin Mengü.

"Pious and vindictive generations... These are the most immoral, the cruellest, the most ignorant portion of Turkish society," one user reacted to death and rape threats.

Meanwhile, Kaftancıoğlu drew attention to "Ethical Rules for Social Media" declared by the AKP which obstructs hate speech, threats and online bullying.

She warned AKP Deputy Chairman Mahir Ünal against following threat givers on Twitter, referring to his earlier campaign to support all accounts that follow AKP's online ethical rules.