Turkey moves to strip pro-Kurdish party of funding

The main building of Turkey's Constitutional Court.

Turkey’s chief prosecutor has asked judges to strip the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) of government funding over its alleged links to outlawed militants, Agence France-Presse reported, citing the state-run Anadolu Agency.

The HDP — parliament’s second-largest opposition group — is facing the threat of closure ahead of a general election due by next June.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accuses the party of being the political wing of banned militants who have been waging a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

The HDP denies formal links to the insurgents and accuses the government of targeting the party because of its stringent opposition to Erdoğan.

The HDP’s future could play a major role in deciding Erdoğan’s success in parliamentary and presidential elections now posing one of the stiffest challenges of his two-decade rule.

The Constitutional Court will have the option of either dissolving the party or stripping it of its funding and banning some of its members if it rules against the HDP.

Chief prosecutor Bekir Şahin is due to make oral arguments in the case on January 10.

Anadolu said Şahin has sent a request to the court before his oral statement asking for the party’s accounts with the Turkish treasury to be blocked.

It was not immediately clear if the chief prosecutor intended to later also ask for the party itself to be shut down.

The HDP refused to comment on the Anadolu report without first seeing the prosecutor’s request.

The HDP’s potential closure would not be a first for a pro-Kurdish party in Turkey.

Previous parties closed include the People’s Democracy Party (HADEP) in 2003.

Other Kurdish groups voluntarily wound down their activities in the face of potential prosecution — only to re-emerge under new names.

Turkey’s main Western allies have heavily criticized Erdoğan’s government for targeting the HDP.

The party itself called the case a “heavy blow to democracy” when the chief prosecutor filed his initial charges in March 2021.

It has already seen dozens of its current and former members and local officials jailed in a crackdown that followed a failed coup against Erdoğan in 2016.

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