Rubber bullets branded by Turkey’s AKP? No, just toys…
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These photos have been widely circulated among Kurdish Twitter users in Turkey in the past days, with many describing the white spheres as rubber bullets decorated with the logo of the country’s ruling party, the AKP. The Twittersphere was furious that the party would be so brazen as to provide decorated bullets to the police to quell street protests over the weekend.
However, these are not rubber bullets at all. These spheres are in fact parts of promotional toys that the AKP gave out to voters during the last election campaign in 2014. They were part of larger balls full of liquid that light up in the dark.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan can be seen throwing these balls into a crowd at a rally in this March 2014 video:
While some Turkish Twitter users recognised these balls and pointed out that the claims were fake, many are still retweeting these “rubber bullet” images as fact. The photos have already been retweeted hundreds of times, including by Kurdish news outlets.
Kurdish acitvists and Turkish authorities are locked into a propaganda war on social networks, which has been exacerbated by Turkey's recent air strikes in Iraq. The air strikes have been aimed not only at Islamic State group targets, but also at Kurdish militant camps in northern Iraq.
Over the past week, Kurds in Turkey have hit the streets to protest against the air strikes on the Kurdish camps. These demonstrations have repeatedly ended in clashes with police, who routinely use tear gas and rubber bullets.