Turkey Seeks Pro-Kurdish Party Closure, Worrying U.S., Europe

Turkey Seeks Pro-Kurdish Party Closure, Worrying U.S., Europe

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Ankara, Diyarbakir: (World View Media, Reuters)

A Turkish prosecutor filed a case with the Constitutional Court late on Wednesday (March 17) demanding a ban on the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a move that worried Ankara’s western allies and triggered criticism among the supporters of the country’s third largest party in parliament.

The move marks the revival of a long history of Turkey banning political parties, including pro-Kurdish ones.

The U.S. State Department said dissolving the HDP “would unduly subvert the will of Turkish voters, further undermine democracy  in Turkey, and deny millions of Turkish citizens their chosen representation.”

The prosecutor’s announcement of the case came as EU leaders are due to discuss strained relations with Turkey at a summit on March 25-26.

In a copy of the prosecutor’s indictment seen by Reuters, the prosecutor said the HDP was no different from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and that it played an active role in recruiting members for the militant group. The HDP denies any links to the militants.

Some political analysts linked the prosecutor’s move to falling public support for the AKP and its nationalist allies as they battle the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, though elections are not scheduled until 2023.

The HDP, which won 11.7% of the vote in a 2018 parliamentary election and has 55 seats in the 600-member parliament, accused the AKP of shaping politics through the courts.

The HDP has said it will regroup as a new party if banned, though the indictment said the prosecutor had demanded a five-year political ban for more than 600 HDP officials – a severe obstacle to any such move.

Nationalist Movement Party leader Devlet Bahceli, an Erdogan ally, hailed the prosecutor’s move, saying: “The HDP is a criminal organization disguised in a political cloak. It is a historic and moral duty for it to be shut and never to be reopened under another name.”

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