Turkey’s Constitutional Court has given the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and additional 60 days to prepare its defense in a closure case the party is facing, the local media reported.
On Nov. 29 the top court sent the opinion of the Supreme Court of Appeals’ chief prosecutor to the HDP and gave the party 30 days to prepare its defense, but the party objected, saying it needed four months. The court, however, granted it only an additional 60 days, after which time the party is expected to deliver its defense to the court.
The top court on June 21 accepted an indictment filed by a prosecutor seeking the closure of the HDP and the imposition of a political ban on 451 party members as well as a freeze of the party’s bank accounts for alleged ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Both the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), frequently accuse HDP, the second largest opposition party in the Turkish Parliament, of ties to the PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US. The party denies the government’s claim and says it is working to achieve a peaceful solution to Turkey’s Kurdish issue.
The Kurdish issue, a term prevalent in Turkey’s public discourse, refers to the demand for equal rights by the country’s Kurdish population and their struggle for recognition, set against a backdrop of never-ending clashes between the outlawed PKK and Turkish security forces. More than 40,000 people, including 5,500 security force members, have been killed in four decades of fighting between the Turkish state and the PKK.
Hundreds of politicians from the HDP including its former co-chairs have been been behind bars on politically motivated charges for several years.
Turkey’s attempt to disband the HDP has drawn widespread condemnation from Western allies and protests from human rights groups.