Erdoğan ally calls for closure of pro-Kurdish opposition party

(Updated with HDP's response in paragraphs 7-9)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s junior coalition partner on Monday urged the country’s top court to seek the shutdown of the opposition pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), Sözcü newspaper reported.

The HDP is the political wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and should be banned for encouraging Kurds to protest Turkey’s failure to stop deadly Islamic State (ISIS) attacks on the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani in 2014, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli said.

Bahçeli said his far-right MHP would seek the pro-Kurdish party’s closure under the country’s political parties law should the Supreme Court of Appeals fail to take action.

“The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Supreme Court of Appeals will be able to file an urgently needed case for the closure of the HDP, based particularly on the indictment over the events of Oct. 6-8, which maintain the status of a clear warning,’’ Bahçeli said, referring to the violent Kobani protests.

The government accuses the HDP of links to the outlawed PKK, an armed group that has been at war for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for almost 40 years. The HDP denies the claim.

Since the failed coup attempt of 2016, Ankara has intensified a crackdown on the group, detaining at least 20 HDP mayors and taking over municipalities run by the pro-Kurdish party in the country.

The HDP responded to Bahçeli’s call later on Monday, saying the Erdoğan ally was committing a constitutional crime by exerting pressure on the country’s judiciary.

The pro-Kurdish party also called on the judiciary to take action against Bahçeli, whose statements "influence, exert pressure over and give orders to the judiciary, thereby constituting a constitutional and legal crime,’’ T24 news site cited HDP deputy co-chair Ümit Dede as saying.

The MHP leader is using his position as the ruling party’s coalition partner to openly give orders to the country’s top court, Dede said.