Top court says former Kurdish MP’s rights violated over remarks about Erdoğan

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled that Hasip Kaplan, a former lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), sustained a violation of his right to freedom of expression due to his 2010 remarks about then-prime minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Cumhuriyet daily.

Kaplan was sued by Erdoğan due to his response to remarks made by Erdoğan, who described the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the BDP, which later changed its name, as “triplets in spirit.”

Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was not an election ally of the MHP at the time.

Kaplan was sued by Erdoğan, who claimed that his words went beyond criticism, violated his personal rights and insulted him.

The former deputy was ordered by an Ankara court in March 2011 to pay TL 6,000 ($4,000 at the time) in damages to Erdoğan.

Kaplan challenged the ruling at the Constitutional Court in 2016 when his initial attempts in lower courts failed.

The top court ruled with a majority of votes that Kaplan’s freedom of expression was violated and ordered the Turkish government to pay him TL 20,000 ($1,350) in damages.

Erdoğan frequently sues or files defamation lawsuits against opposition politicians or journalists criticizing him or his government’s policies.

In a speech he delivered at an event in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in December 2010, Kaplan criticized Erdoğan for refusing to lower Turkey’s 10 percent election threshold. He said anyone who cares about democracy, honor and morality would never defend such a high election threshold.

“Hey Erdoğan, if you’re brave, let’s go to elections without an election threshold,” Kaplan said at the time.

Ironically, Erdoğan and his now-election ally, the MHP, recently reduced Turkey’s former 10 percent election threshold to 7 percent.

The amendments to the Election and Political Parties Law were pressed ahead earlier this month by the AKP and the MHP, which make up the Public Alliance, and came at a time of declining support for the AKP, with a growing number of public surveys showing the MHP remaining under the 10 percent threshold in a possible election.

Pro-Kurdish parties had to nominate independent candidates in the elections in the past in order the circumvent the election threshold.

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