The chief prosecutor’s office of Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals has launched a probe into the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and asked for documents from the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office related to ongoing investigations into HDP lawmakers and officials, Turkish media reported on Tuesday.
Prosecutors sent 33 legal proceedings to the parliament on Feb. 23 in a bid to remove the immunity of at least nine HDP deputies.
If the prosecutor’s office decides after the investigation that the HDP is a “focal point for terrorism against the indivisible integrity of the state,” like the previous pro-Kurdish parties that were banned, then the Constitutional Court will issue a verdict on whether the close the party or not.
Government crackdown on HDP
A government-led crackdown on the HDP reached new heights following a failed coup in July 2016 as Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) launched a massive crackdown on its opponents under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. The party’s former co-chairpersons, Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, who were arrested in November 2016 on terrorism charges, are still behind bars.
According to a report released Dec. 10 by the HDP on the occasion of Human Rights Day, 93 HDP provincial co-chairs, 193 HDP district co-chairs and one town co-chair have been arrested since July 2015. In the same period 18 HDP deputies including the party’s former co-chairs, 23 central executive board (MYK) members, 21 party council members and more than 800 provincial and district officials have been arrested. Seven former HDP deputies and 15 MYK members are currently in jail. In addition the parliamentary membership of 13 lawmakers has been revoked. HDP deputies currently in jail are Demirtaş, Yüksekdağ, İdris Baluken, Çağlar Demirel, Abdullah Zeydan, Gülser Yıldırım and Musa Farisoğulları.
In a recent development Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals last Friday upheld a prison sentence of two years, six months given to rights advocate and HDP lawmaker Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda, a move that has sparked outrage in Turkey and beyond because Gergerlioğlu is respected by many for being an outspoken defender of human rights.
HDP mayors have also received their share of the crackdown on the party as the government replaced 48 HDP mayors, elected in 2019, with government-appointed trustees. A total of 37 HDP mayors were arrested, 17 of whom are still in jail.
The AKP accuses the HDP of links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU. The HDP denies the claim.