Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which is the subject of a closure case, has again submitted a petition to the Constitutional Court requesting that the judges conclude its case after parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for May 14, Deutsche Welle Turkish edition 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.
In its petition to the court, the party said on April 11, when the party is expected to make its oral defense before the court, party officials will be busy campaigning for the elections. The party said diverting their attention from the elections to the drafting of the party’s oral defense at the court would disadvantage the party in the elections.
The top court had previously set March 14 as the date for the HDP to make its oral defense but it postponed it to April 11 since HDP deputies were busy with relief efforts in Turkey’s earthquake-stricken south and southeast.
In January, the HDP made its first request to the court for the conclusion of its closure case after the elections, a request denied by the court.
If the Constitutional Court insists on concluding the case before the elections and rules to dissolve the party, its candidates will not be able to run in the elections under the HDP banner.
In the past when pro-Kurdish parties faced similar threats, they either fielded independent candidates or ran under the banner of other parties.
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 15-member panel needs a two-thirds majority to approve a political ban.
Turkey’s political history is filled with pro-Kurdish parties that were shut down on terrorism charges. Every time a party was closed, another one was established in short order.
The HDP is widely seen as the kingmaker in the presidential election on May 14 that could end the two-decade rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is seeking re-election.
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.
Meanwhile, there is growing international support for the party, with politicians and activists around the world calling on the Turkish government to abandon its legal assault on the party.
Earlier this week, more than 50 public figures from 23 countries, signed a letter warning that “the possibility that the country’s third largest party in parliament, representing more than 10% of the popular vote in the past two general elections, could be permanently banned so close to the upcoming elections places Turkish democracy in dire jeopardy.”
The letter was published by Progressive International, a worldwide network of progressive parties, movements, trade unions and campaigns.