Four Kurdistani parties in Turkey face closure over name

The Turkish Supreme court has accepted a lawsuit by the chief prosecutor's office which argues the word "Kurdistan" is racist.
author_image Rawa Barwari

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkey’s top public prosecutor’s office has demanded from the country’s Supreme Court to order the shutdown of four Kurdish political parties for having the word “Kurdistan” in their name.

Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK), Kurdistan Communist Party, Kurdistan Democratic Party-Turkey (KDP-T), and Kurdistan Socialist Party (PSK) are the parties which face a ban for refusing to change their name despite repeated warnings by the Supreme Court.

On Jan. 17, the Court accepted a lawsuit by the “General Prosecution Office of the Supreme Court of Appeals” to ban the parties, Kurdistan 24’s Ankara bureau reported.

For years, the parties have faced pressure from judicial authorities to drop Kurdistan from their name on the grounds the use of the word violates the Turkish Constitution.

However, it was the Turkish authorities that allowed them to operate using the name “Kurdistan” in the first place during the 2013-2015 peace talks between the then government of the current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that now resumes guerrilla warfare over Kurdish rights from its mountain redoubts.

After reviewing PAK’s party program, the former Turkish public prosecutor Hasan Erbil in 2015 alleged that the terms “Kurd, Kurdish, and Kurdistan” were racist.

The parties now have to make a case of defense on Monday.

“There is not going to be a change in the defense we made two years ago,” PAK’s leader and founder Mustafa Ozcelik told a press conference in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir earlier this week, referring to an earlier case he made in 2017.

“Kurdistan Freedom Party is not going to change its name or program. Its leadership is committed. A decision to close the party goes against freedom of expression. It will violate article 90 of the Constitution,” he said.

“No problem can be solved by banning the name Kurdistan. With the application once again of this ban that is in place for 95 years, with the closure of political parties, the Kurdish question in Turkey cannot be resolved. A policy denying the very existence of the Kurdish people and Kurdistan leads nowhere. We are not going to abandon the democratic political arena,” Ozcelik added.

“We call on the Turkish state to adhere by its own laws, international treaties, human rights and stop violating freedom of expression and assembly,” he said.

“Turkey shuts down Kurdish parties, organizations, newspapers, TVs, prevents all civic activities. What does the Turkish state mean by banning even the word Kurdistan? What are we supposed to do? Does the Turkish state want all Kurds to choose violence, to go to the mountains [to fight]? This policy has to end.”

A quick search by Kurdistan 24 on the website of the Court of Appeals showed that the names of the four parties were removed from a list of political parties officially registered in Turkey, although the Supreme Court is yet to decide.

As a preparation for the upcoming local elections in March, the Kurdistani factions recently united with the main pro-Kurdish party Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) as an alliance to reclaim municipalities in Kurdish provinces the Erdogan regime had seized in the past three years.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany