A top Turkish prosecutor who is seeking to close down the country’s second largest opposition party, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has accused the party of acting like the recruitment office of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Bekir Şahin, the chief public prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals, on Tuesday made his final case at the Constitutional Court, which will make a decision on the closure of the party.
Şahin said in remarks to reporters in front of the Constitutional Court in Ankara that he presented the top court with evidence that the HDP has become a focal point of activities against the inseparable unity of the state and the nation.
The prosecutor filed the lawsuit against the HDP in March 2021, accusing it of having links to the PKK, which has been waging a bloody war in Turkey’s southeast since 1984 and is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.
Şahin said the party acts like the recruitment office of the PKK and that its links to terrorism are “well known.” He claimed almost 85 million Turks, the entire population of Turkey, are aware that it is not a party independent of the PKK but that it is controlled by the PKK and is one of its organs.
He said HDP officials see the PKK not as a terrorist organization but as an “armed public movement” and that there are records about this which have made their way to TV stations.
The HDP, which has 56 seats in the 579-member parliament, denies any links to the PKK.
The Constitutional Court has the option of dissolving the party or banning some of its members from politics if it rules against the HDP.
The party will have a month to prepare its defense before the court convenes for consideration of the case.
The 15-member panel needs a two-thirds majority to approve a political ban.
The HDP said it expected the case to conclude “in the coming months, before the elections.”
The chief prosecutor said the verdict’s timing was “at the Constitutional Court’s discretion.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his election partner, Devlet Bahçeli, leader of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), have repeatedly accused the HDP of having ties to the PKK.
Last week, the Constitutional Court suspended funding for the HDP over its alleged ties to terrorism, depriving the party of a key source of income as Turkey heads to presidential and parliamentary elections in June.
The HDP’s future could play a major role in deciding Erdoğan’s success in parliamentary and presidential elections now posing one of the stiffest challenges of his two-decade rule.
Thousands of supporters and dozens of the HDP’s current and former officials are currently in jail on contentious charges that have strained Turkey’s relations with its allies in the West.