Turkish high court accepts indictment against Kurdish party

International

Turkey’s highest court on Monday has accepted an indictment by a top prosecutor seeking to disband the country’s opposition pro-Kurdish party on terror-related charges.

The Constitutional Court ruled in favor of hearing the case against the People’s Democratic Party, or HDP, which was filed by the chief appeals court prosecutor who is accusing it of allegedly colluding with the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and of seeking to “destroy the unity of the state.”

The prosecutor is demanding that the party be dissolved, that it be deprived of treasury funding and that about 450 party members be barred from holding political office for five years.

This was chief prosecutor Bekir Sahin’s second petition seeking HDP’s closure after the Constitutional Court rejected a previous attempt in March, citing procedural deficiencies.

There was no immediate comment from the HDP, which has said previously that the case against it is politically motivated.

The move against the HDP — the second-largest opposition party in Turkey’s parliament — comes amid a widespread government crackdown. Dozens of elected HDP lawmakers and mayors — including former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag — as well as thousands of party members have been arrested on terror-related accusations. Meanwhile, several HDP mayors who were elected in 2019 have been replaced by state-appointed trustees.

Turkey’s president has called HDP members terrorists, while his nationalist party allies have repeatedly called for the party to be shut down. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has also been behind a general crackdown on dissent ever since a failed 2016 coup attempt.

On Thursday, a gunman attacked a HDP’s office in Izmir, western Turkey, killing a female employee. The assailant entered the building, fired shots and attempted to set it on fire, the party said.

The PKK is considered a terror organization by Turkey, the European Union and the U.S. The group has led an armed insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 and the conflict has killed tens of thousands of people.

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