İstanbul mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu criticized the launch of a closure case against the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the expulsion of one of the party’s lawmakers from parliament in a phone call to the party’s co-chairperson, Pervin Buldan, according to a statement from the HDP.
İmamoğlu, who called Buldan on Friday to congratulate her on the occasion of the spring festival of Nevruz, described both developments targeting the party as “anti-democratic,” saying, “We will continue to create the cornerstones of democracy together.”
When İmamoğlu stood for election in 2019, the HDP supported him against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) mayoral candidate for İstanbul, helping him the end the years-long AKP rule in the city.
On Wednesday the HDP was shaken by the expulsion from parliament of Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu due to a prison sentence handed down to him over a tweet in 2016 as well as a closure case launched by a Turkish prosecutor at the Constitutional Court to shut down the party.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has long portrayed the HDP as the political front of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The party denies links to 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.
The political and legal assault on the HDP, which intensified after a truce between the PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU, and Erdoğan’s government broke down in 2015, grew even stronger after Erdoğan survived a failed coup attempt in 2016 that was followed by a sweeping political crackdown.
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bars on terrorism charges, while most of the 65 HDP mayors elected in the predominantly Kurdish Southeast in 2019 have been replaced by government-appointed trustees.