Turkey again seeks to close down pro-Kurdish political party

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A prosecutor on Monday refiled an indictment that seeks to close down a pro-Kurdish party, the second largest opposition party in the Turkish Parliament, after the first attempt failed.

Turkey’s Constitutional Court in March returned the first version of the indictment seeking closure of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) to the chief public prosecutor’s office at the top appeals court for review on the grounds that there were deficiencies in the indictment.

The HDP is accused in the indictment of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU, and of posing a threat to the “indivisible integrity of the state.”

The new indictment, comprising 850 pages, was submitted by Bekir Şahin, chief public prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals, to the Constitutional Court. The indictment seeks the imposition of a political ban on some 500 party members as well as freezing the bank accounts of the party.

The prosecutor’s move has attracted the HDP’s ire, which accused the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its election ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), of seeking to renew their power by means of the closure case targeting the party.

“The mafia tells the history of the AKP-MHP alliance, while the HDP’s history is being written by the people. Those who remain silent about the revelations of a mafia leader are trying to renew their power by attacking our party. We will not let this happen,” the party tweeted.

The HDP’s statement was referring to the revelations of mafia leader Sedat Peker, who has been shaking up Turkish politics with his videos on YouTube since early May, each of which reaches over a million viewers on the first day of their release. The crime boss, who lives in Dubai and is the subject of an outstanding warrant in Turkey, has been making shocking revelations about state-mafia relations and drug trafficking and murders implicating state officials.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his AKP have long portrayed the HDP as the political front of the PKK. The party denies links to PKK and says it is working to achieve a peaceful solution to Turkey’s Kurdish problem and is only coming under attack because of its strong opposition to Erdoğan’s 18-year rule.

The MHP strongly backs the closure of the HDP. Hundreds of politicians from the party including its former co-chairs have been languishing behind bars on politically motivated charges for several years.

Turkey’s attempt to dissolve the HDP has drawn condemnation from Western allies and protests from human rights groups.

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