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HDP asks top court to conclude its closure case after elections

HDP co-Chairperson Mithat Sancar

HDP co-Chairperson Mithat Sancar AFP

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which is the subject of a closure case, has submitted a petition to the Constitutional Court requesting that the court conclude its case after the parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for June, the Gazete Duvar news website reported.

Turkey’s top prosecutor filed a case against the HDP, the second largest opposition party in the Turkish Parliament, in March 2021, accusing it of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (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.

The party’s Law and Human Rights Commission asked in its petition to the court to delay all proceedings regarding the party’s closure after June 18, the scheduled election date.

“The Constitutional Court should halt all proceedings in this case,” HDP Co-chairperson Mithat Sancar said at a news conference at party headquarters in Ankara on Monday.

Sancar said the closure case against his party would not have been filed in the first place if the universal principles of law had been taken into consideration.

“This is a politically motivated case. The goal is to put pressure on democratic politics and eliminate the HDP,” said Sancar.

Bekir Şahin, the chief public prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals, last week made his final case at the Constitutional Court, which will make a decision on the closure of the party.

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 ties to the PKK.

The HDP, which has 56 seats in the 579-member parliament, denies any links to the PKK.

Funding freeze

On Jan. 5 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.

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