A top Turkish prosecutor said there was no difference between the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the third-largest group in parliament, and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group in an indictment requesting the closure of the political party, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Thursday.
Bekir Şahin, the chief public prosecutor for Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals who on Wednesday asked the Constitutional Court to close the HDP, argued in the indictment that the pro-Kurdish party had become the focal point of actions that violate the state’s “indivisible unity” and that it had an “active role in providing personnel” to the PKK.
“In fact, there’s no difference between HDP and the PKK. The HDP is the political offshoot of the PKK,” Şahin said in the indictment, adding that shutting down the HDP was a “legal responsibility” to protect “Turkey’s indivisible unity and the people’s peace and security.”
According to Anadolu, Şahin’s indictment not only calls for the HDP’s closure, but also for a five-year political ban on more than 600 of its members — including 42 lawmakers — withdrawing treasury support to the party and confiscating its property.
Among those whom Şahin wants barred from political life are former HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Sezai Temelli and the party’s current leaders, Pervin Buldan and Mithat Sancar.
“Political parties should try to achieve their objectives not by promoting and legitimizing violence but within the existing rules determined by the constitution and the legal system. The remarks promoting violence, terrorism and terrorists uttered by members of the defendant party, which has failed to criticize terrorism, let alone condemn it, cannot be considered within freedom of expression,” Şahin said.
The HDP’s future was thrown into question when Devlet Bahçeli, leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and an ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, began calling on Turkey’s top court to take action late last year.
The indictment marks the culmination of a years-long crackdown on the pro-Kurdish party, which intensified after a truce between the PKK and Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government broke down in 2015 and grew even stronger after Erdoğan survived a failed coup attempt in 2016.
Erdoğan has long portrayed the HDP as the political front of the PKK. The party denies links to the PKK and says it is working to achieve a peaceful solution to Turkey’s Kurdish problem and is only coming under attack because of its strong opposition to Erdoğan’s 18-year rule.
Hundreds of HDP politicians, including the party’s former co-chairs, are behind bars on terrorism charges, while most of the 65 HDP mayors elected in the predominantly Kurdish Southeast in 2019 have been replaced by government-appointed trustees.