• Uygar Özel

Turkish Constitutional Court agrees to rule on ban of pro-Kurdish HDP

Mirjam Schmitt and Anne Pollmann Jun 21, 2021.

Photo © Uygar Özel

Istanbul (DPA) - Judges at Turkey's Constitutional Court unanimously accepted on Monday a case regarding the possible ban of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), state news agency Anadolu reported.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses the HDP of being an extension of the the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. The HDP denies having ties.

In early June, the general prosecutor of the highest court filed a revised lawsuit with the Constitutional Court asking for the HDP to be banned, after a first attempt had been rejected in March due to formal irregularities.

In the 850-page indictment, the party is accused of separatism, among other things, Anadolu reported. The prosecutor calls for a permanent ban of the party and for barring 500 people from being active in politics.

A request to freeze bank accounts was rejected by the Constitutional Court, Anadolu reported.

HDP co-leader Mithat Sancar called the court's decision to accept the case politically motivated and accused the Turkish government of agitating against his party.

He pointed towards the attack of the HDP offices in Izmir on Friday, in which one employee was killed. The government was turning the party into a target, Sancar said.

"The lawsuit comes at the end of a months-long political campaign," Sancar said, adding that the indictment was not written by the prosecution but by the presidential palace and the ultra-nationalist MHP, which props up Erdogan's government.

The Constitutional Court should have rejected the case, and in accepting it missed a "historical chance" to support democracy, according to Sancar.

Experts believe the lawsuit could now take several months. The judges are to decide by a two-thirds majority, meaning that 10 of the 15 judges would have to vote in favour of the ban.

The HDP is the second-largest opposition party in parliament and gained 11.7 per cent of votes in the last presidential and parliamentary elections three years ago.

It has been under pressure for years, and thousands of its members are in jail under terrorism charges. Former co-leader Selahattin Demirtas has been in prison since 2016.

The proposed ban is also seen as a concession to MHP chief Devlet Bahceli, who has been calling for the party's prohibition for a long time. Erdogan is increasingly losing support in polls, and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) does not have a majority in parliament without the MHP.

If the HDP is banned, Erdogan could call early elections and attempt to form a majority without the MHP. Regular elections are scheduled for 2023.

Text © Deutsche Presse-Agentur

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