Turkey's pro-Kurdish HDP submits defence against 'political' closure case

Turkey's pro-Kurdish HDP Democratic Peoples' Party on Tuesday submitted its main written defence to the constitutional court in the case calling for its closure, BBC Turkish reported.

HDP deputy chairman Ümit Dede, after submitting its defence to the top court, called the indictment against the party a "political document," it said.

A top Turkish prosecutor in March of last year filed a case with the constitutional court demanding the closure of the HDP, over alleged links to Kurdish militants. The party denies such ties. The case is a the culmination of a years-long clampdown by Ankara on Turkey’s third-largest party in parliament.

The indictment against HDP also calls for 451 members of the party to be banned from politics for five years, which would cover the elections set for June of 2023.

HDP’s defence reveals that the indictment was prepared in a way that is illegal, and has been effectively “commissioned from the chief public prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals by the ruling party and its allies,” BBC cited HDP’s Dede as saying.

“This document (indictment), which we characterize as the last link in attacks against the HDP from 2015 until today, is being used as an vehicle in an operation for pushing the HDP outside of the democratic politics,” Dede added.

The constitutional court accepted the indictment in June, after a years-long crackdown under President Tayyip Erdoğan in which thousands of HDP members have been tried on mainly terrorism-related charges. Since 2019, 48 of the 65 elected HDP mayors in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish eastern and southeastern regions have been removed from office by the Interior Ministry, citing "terror" investigations.''

Ankara accuses of harbouring sympathies for and acting in the interest of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought a four-decades-long insurgency in which more than 40,000 people have been killed.

"They wanted to fabricate a legal cover to liquidate the HDP," Dede said, adding that the party was being targeted because of its previous electoral success.

In the 2018 elections, the HDP received 11.7 percent of votes and maintains 56 MPs in the 600 seat Turkish assembly. 

As Turkey countdown down to its next elections, opinion polls showing waning support for Erdoğan’s AKP, while backing for the HDP remains relatively steady.

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