ISTANBUL – An indictment which aims to ban Turkey’s Democratic Peoples’ Party (HDP) was prepared for political reasons and should be thrown out, an HDP official said on Saturday, a day after it submitted an initial defence to Turkey’s top court.
Turkey’s Constitutional Court accepted the indictment against the pro-Kurdish HDP in June. The measure calls for the party to be shut down over alleged ties to militants. But the HDP denies any such ties and describes the case as a “political operation”.
The case, brought by prosecutors at the Court of Cassation, follows a years-long crackdown on the HDP, in which thousands of its members have been tried on mainly terrorism-related charges.
The party submitted its initial defence to the Constitutional Court on Friday.
Umit Dede, a deputy chair of the HDP, told reporters on Saturday the initial defence did not address each allegation individually but sought to highlight procedural issues.
“This case was prepared as a result of the pressure put on the chief prosecutors of the Court of Cassation by the ruling party and its partners. Therefore, in our defence we presented this matter to the attention of the Constitutional Court with evidence,” Dede said.
The party will address allegations individually after the prosecutor submits his analysis to the court, but the case should be thrown out before that, Dede said.
Turkey has a long history of shutting down political parties, including pro-Kurdish ones. Critics say its judiciary is subject to political influence, a claim denied by the ruling AK Party and its nationalist MHP allies.
Court of Cassation chief prosecutor Bekir Sahin said in the indictment that the HDP acts together with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, and aims to break the unity of the state.
The HDP is Turkey’s third-largest party, with 55 seats in the 600-member parliament.
The PKK is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union. It has fought an insurgency since 1984 in which more than 40,000 people have been killed.