EU criticizes Turkey’s latest move to ban pro-Kurdish party

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The European Union’s special rapporteur and the Chair of the Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee criticized a new indictment by the state prosecutor to ban the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

“It's a serious political mistake and irreversible blow to pluralism and democratic principles. Not the way to get closer to get Turkey closer to the EU!” Nacho Sanchez Amor said in a tweet on Tuesday.

The Chief Public Prosecutor's Office issued a new indictment against the HDP this week and sent it to the Constitutional Court, demanding the closure of the party, BIA net reported on Tuesday.

Like the original indictment, the revised document also demands that nearly 500 HDP politicians be banned from politics and that the party’s bank accounts are frozen, the HDP said on Wednesday.

The HDP represents over six million people, and a ban on the party means ignoring the democratic will of these people,” the co-heads of the party said in a statement.

“The closure of the HDP will mean another major blow to the democratic future of the country and undermining the prospects of a peaceful resolution of the protracted Kurdish issue,” the statement added.

On March 2, Turkey’s Court of Cassation launched an inquiry against the HDP. It applied to the Constitutional Court on March 12, but the higher court returned the initial indictment due to the lack of procedure in the file.

As a result, the senior prosecutor filed a new indictment against the party on Monday, a move that could worsen Turkish relations with Europe and the United States, who have previously criticized attempts to shutter the party.

The former European parliament rapporteur for Turkey and senior socialist lawmaker Kati Piri told Kurdistan 24 in March that the “biggest authoritarian move in Turkey in years would be the closure of HDP, the party which represents 6 million voters in Turkey.”

The Turkish government accuses the HDP of having close ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an allegation it has used to justify its crackdown on Kurdish politicians. The HDP denies links to the PKK, which has been fighting a decades-long insurgency against Ankara over Kurdish rights in Turkey.

According to a recent Human Rights Watch report, “terrorism charges [in Turkey] continue to be widely misused to restrict the rights to free expression and association.”

“There are no published official numbers of prisoners held on remand or convicted for alleged links with the PKK, although on the basis of the previous years’ figures the number is at least 8,500 and includes elected politicians and journalists,” the report said.

A government crackdown on the HDP gained pace in the aftermath of the attempted July 2016 military coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Ankara’s response has seen over seven thousand people jailed, including the HDP party's co-leader Selahattin Demirtas and 11 other lawmakers.

Demirtas remains jailed despite two of European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rulings in favor of his release.