Sunday, July 3

Turkey’s Kurdish Party Faces Outlaws After Years Of Heavy Repression

Turkey’s Constitutional Court unanimously admitted the 843-page lawsuit prepared by the Chief Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals requesting the closure of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). The leftist party is the main party of the Kurdish minority in Turkey and the third political force in Parliament.

This decision could make the HDP disappear, which has been the object of a harsh campaign of repression by the Erdogan government for several years and which has affected from the top of the party – with its leaders imprisoned – to the local level – with dozens of mayors dismissed, detained and imprisoned. It also affects Parliament by the withdrawal of immunity to party deputies. Currently there are 13 former deputies who are in prison.

The ruling in the Constitutional will take months to arrive, but the continuous erosion of the rule of law and judicial independence in Turkey, as has been confirmed by the Council of Europe, among other organizations, generates concern in the HDP. “The decision to close the HDP is not a decision of the Constitutional Court, but of the Government. If they finally believe that the closure will benefit them politically, they will outlaw the party,” Hisyar Ozsoy, foreign spokesman for the party, told

“Since 2016 there is no rule of law or judicial independence, the government controls everything and I do not think there is any brave judge who can oppose Erdogan’s intentions,” he says. The lawsuit in the Constitutional Court accuses the party of terrorism and of working with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party –considered a terrorist organization by the US, Turkey and the EU–) to destroy the unity of the State. In addition to the closure, the prosecutor asks for a temporary political veto to 451 members of the formation and the freezing of the party’s bank accounts

Matter of survival for Erdogan

If the lawsuit is successful, the HDP would not be the first party to be shut down in Turkey. All pro-Kurdish formations have faced judicial persecution for their alleged closeness to the PKK and most have been dissolved.

The first was the People’s Labor Party, outlawed in 1993 after three years of existence. Its successor, the Democracy and Freedom Party, was dissolved six months after its formation in November 1993. The next one, the Democracy Party, only lasted one year and was also closed in 1994. Then it was the turn of the Democracy Party of the Pueblo (HADEP), closed in 2003. Later the Popular Democratic Party (DEHAP) was born, which merged with the Democratic Society Party when the Constitutional Party opened a case against them. However, in 2009 it was also the turn of the Democratic Society Party. Finally, in 2008 the Peace and Democracy Party was created, which later joined with the HDP, closing the circle of Kurdish formations.

“Generally there has been pressure [sobre las formaciones kurdas], but this has doubled or tripled with the Erdogan government because they know that the HDP has a decisive role in the country’s politics, “says Ozsoy. The HDP representative’s statement is based on the fact that Turkey has a very high voting threshold to enter parliament, demanding 10%, which means that the entry of the HDP considerably reduces Erdogan’s party’s options to obtain an absolute majority.

This was already recognized by Erdogan days before the 2018 general elections. “Friends, our party branches should do a special job with the HDP. I will not speak about this in public, only here with you. Why with you? Because if they fail to pass the threshold (of 10% of the votes), that is a great advantage for us, “he said at an internal party meeting.

“Erdogan is preparing for the presidential elections. That is why he wants to destroy the party before the vote,” says Ozsoy. “Since 2015, more than 16,000 people from the party have been detained. Despite that pressure, we remain a powerful force of resilience and political struggle. So it turns to a ‘final solution’ and tries to completely shut down the party. It is a matter. survival for Erdogan and it may get worse as we get closer to the elections. ”

The leftist formation obtained representation for the first time in Parliament in 2015 and in the 2018 elections it once again exceeded 10%. In the last elections, Erdogan lost the absolute majority for the first time since 2002 and had to form a coalition with the ultra-nationalist MHP party.

The figures of the repression

The HDP has been resisting government persecution for years. Now former party leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Serpil Kemalbay are in prison. Demitras was arrested in November 2016 and Kemalbay has been in jail since February 2018. They are joined by the 13 former deputies behind bars.

The last parliamentarian to go to prison was Omer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, one of the country’s leading voices against Erdogan’s abuses and a recognized human rights defender. Gergerlioğlu has been condemned, among other things, for his tweets in favor of the resolution of the Kurdish conflict. “I did not think that a message supporting peace could cause these kinds of problems. This shows that the party in power has renounced reason. If you oppose their policies, these are the problems you face,” he told a few days before entering jail.

Regarding the municipalities, the situation is more serious. In the last local elections, held in March 2019, the HDP obtained 65 mayors and currently there are only six mayors in office, according to the party. Most have been replaced by administrators appointed by the government, something that Erdogan already warned about before the elections. “If those who have been involved in terrorism are elected in local elections, we will do what is necessary and appoint administrators,” said the president.

“There are two rounds of impeachment of mayors. The first in 2016, in which 96 mayors elected in 2014 were expelled and many of them arrested. In 2019 we won 65; 48 were eliminated directly and six were not recognized as victory. Approximately 30 HDP mayors are currently still in prison, although it is chaos because they are released, they are arrested again… In recent years there have been around 150 dismissals in total, “says Ozsoy.

Eyyup Doru is a member of the HDP and has been the party’s representative in Europe. He is currently a global representative of the Kurdish movement in Spain and Portugal: “Turkey is very far from the values ​​of the EU, but despite this situation, Europe continues to support Turkey economically and continues to do business, hence the soft statements [respecto a la represión contra el HDP] they do not change anything for Turkey. “” Our deputies, mayors and party officials have been received by many high European officials and the response to this outrage is always that they are restless or worried. ”