HDP submits its written defense to top court in closure case

HDP gathering

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which faces a closure case, has submitted its written defense to the Constitutional Court, which the party said proved that the indictment of the HDP is a “political text,” Turkish Minute reported, citing Deutsche Welle’s Turkish edition.

The top court in June 2021 accepted an indictment filed by a prosecutor seeking the closure of the HDP and the imposition of a political ban on 451 party members as well as a freeze of the party’s bank accounts for alleged ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

A delegation comprising HDP officials issued a statement in front of the court on Tuesday after submitting their party’s defense to the court.

HDP Deputy Co-chairperson Ümit Dede said the party in its defense responded to every allegation in the indictment and proved that the indictment was drafted unlawfully based on orders from the government. Dede called the closure case against the HDP an attempt to drive the party out of the field of democratic politics.

Both the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), frequently accuse HDP, the second largest opposition party in the Turkish Parliament, of ties to the PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US. The party denies the government’s claim and says it is working to achieve a peaceful solution to Turkey’s Kurdish issue.

The Kurdish issue, a term prevalent in Turkey’s public discourse, refers to the demand for equal rights by the country’s Kurdish population and their struggle for recognition, set against a backdrop of never-ending clashes between the outlawed PKK and Turkish security forces. More than 40,000 people, including 5,500 security force members, have been killed in four decades of fighting between the Turkish state and the PKK.

The course of the closure case

Following the HDP’s delivering of its defense to the Constitutional Court, the chief prosecutor at the Supreme Court of Appeals, Bekir Şahin, will submit his opinion to the court about the case and his opinion will also be sent to the HDP.

The Constitutional Court will then set a date for Şahin to make an oral statement about the closure case and then will ask the HDP officials to give an oral defense.

Meanwhile, the court’s rapporteur, who will collect documents and evidence related to the case, will draft their report, which will either be in favor or against the party’s closure. After the delivery of the rapporteur’s report to the top court, the panel of 15 judges at the court will convene to make a decision about the case. Two-thirds of the court’s members are required to agree on a decision that will emerge from the court.

In the meantime, the Turkish Parliament has received 10 summaries of proceedings to remove the parliamentary immunity of 10 HDP lawmakers including the party’s co-chairperson Mithat Sancar

If parliament votes to strip the 10 deputies of their immunity from prosecution, they will be tried by Turkish courts.

The prosecution of members of parliament has been possible since the main opposition Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP) and the MHP lent support to a 2016 proposal submitted by the AKP on removing deputies’ immunity from prosecution.

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