Turkey’s chief prosecutor refiles case calling for pro-Kurdish HDP closure

(Updated with HDP reaction)

The chief public prosecutor of Turkey’s Court of Cassation has refiled a lawsuit calling for the closure of the opposition pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) over alleged links to a terrorist organisation, T24 news site reported on Monday.

The 850-page indictment submitted to Turkey's Constitutional Court calling for the closure of the HDP also urges a political ban on 500 party members, and a cautionary freeze on the opposition party’s bank account, the site said.

The Constitutional Court in April this year turned downed an indictment to close the HDP, citing an insufficiently built and evidenced case against the second largest opposition bloc in the country. 

The decision arrived after a Constitutional Court rapporteur advised the court to return the indictment, citing mistakes in the identification and job descriptions of some people mentioned in the document.

Prosecutors have submitted a revised indictment that accuses the party of being a centre of focus for terrorist activity on behalf of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war in Turkey for Kurdish self rule for four decades. The HDP denies the allegation.

“The activities of the HDP were found to be in violation of the independence of the state, the unity with its country and nation, and human rights,’’ T24 cited the indictment as saying. “The defendant party has, at the same time, through almost all of its organs, members, and organisations committed these major crimes, while inciting and encouraging them.’’

Ankara has in recent years intensified a crackdown on the HDP, which it accuses of harbouring sympathies for and acting in the interest of the outlawed PKK, designated a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union.

Since 2019, 48 of the 65 elected HDP mayors in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish eastern and southeastern regions have been removed from office by the Interior Ministry, citing "terror" investigations. The former co-chairs of the party, Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ have been jailed on terror charges.

Later on Monday, the HDP responded to the expanded indictment, saying it was part of an effort by the government to "update’’ its powers."

''The history of the AKP-MHP (ruling) alliance is told by the mafia. The history of the HDP is written by the people,’’ the party said on its official Twitter account, referring to claims of corruption levelled at the government by an exiled mob boss that have taken Turkey by storm.

"Those who remain silent against mafia confessions are attempting to update their power by attacking our party. We will not allow for this,’’ the statement said.

HDP co-chairman Mithat Sancar accused the government of attempting to exonerate itself from its "mafia-order’’ through shuttering the pro-Kurdish party.

"The HDP is hope,’’ Sancar said on Twitter. "We will not be able to strangulate hope.’’