Top prosecutor signals new indictment seeking ban of pro-Kurdish HDP

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Bekir Şahin, chief prosecutor for the Supreme Court of Appeals, has signaled the drafting of a new indictment seeking to shut down the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the third-largest group in the Turkish parliament.

“We are re-drafting the indictment,” Şahin said in an interview aired on the Haber Global news channel on Tuesday.

The top prosecutor on March 17 had asked the Constitutional Court to ban the HDP, arguing in an indictment that the pro-Kurdish party was trying to “destroy the indivisibility between the state and the people.”

Şahin had sought a five-year political ban on at least 680 HDP officials. He accused them of acting as a political front for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed secessionist group listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US.

Turkey’s top court, however, sent the indictment back on March 31 on procedural grounds. According to Turkish media, inconsistencies in the indictment included incorrect identification and job titles of some party members, and also a demand for a political ban on a deceased member.

The HDP denied the allegations and said the case was “politically motivated” and “part of a plan that aims to completely wipe the Kurdish political movement out of democratic politics.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has long portrayed the HDP as the political front of the PKK. The party denies links to PKK and says it is working to achieve a peaceful solution to Turkey’s Kurdish problem and is only coming under attack because of its strong opposition to Erdoğan’s 18-year rule.

The political and legal assault on the HDP, which intensified after a truce between the Kurdish militants and Erdoğan’s government broke down in 2015, grew even stronger after Erdoğan survived a failed coup attempt in July 2016 that was followed by a sweeping political crackdown.

Hundreds of HDP politicians, including the party’s former co-chairs, are behind bars on terrorism charges, while most of the 65 HDP mayors elected in the predominantly Kurdish Southeast in 2019 have been replaced by government-appointed trustees.

Selahattin Demirtaş, who co-led the HDP and twice ran for president, has been in prison since November 2016 due to multiple cases and remains behind bars despite orders from the European Court of Human Rights to release him. Former co-president Figen Yüksekdağ has also been in prison since 2016.

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a former HDP member of parliament and human rights defender, was expelled from the legislature on March 18 after being controversially convicted of disseminating “terrorist propaganda” in an old social media post. Gergerlioğlu was taken into custody at his home on April 2 and sent to prison.

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