The main Turkish prosecutor files a case to shut down the pro-Kurdish HDP | News from the Kurds

A high-level Turkish prosecutor has filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court to demand the closure of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) after a years-long crackdown on the third party in parliament.

The move came on Wednesday as Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, a prominent HDP lawmaker, was convicted of a 2016 social media post that the courts ruled as “terrorist propaganda.”

An appeals court decision upholding the conviction was read to parliament, resulting in his automatic eviction from the house. Gergerlioglu protested against this decision and refused to leave.

HDP said Gergerlioglu was punished for sharing on Twitter the link to a report containing comments by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that led a decades-long armed uprising in Turkey.

Bekir Sahin, chief prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeal, accused the leaders and members of the HDP of “having acted in a manner which flouts democratic and universal rules of law, of colluding with the terrorist PKK and affiliated groups, and aimed at destroying and eliminating the indivisible integrity of the state, ”the state news agency Anadolu reported.

The HDP, which has 55 seats in the 600-member parliament, denies any connection with the Kurdish fighters.

The High Court must approve the indictment before the trial against the HDP can begin.

‘Go nowhere’

Several of the HDP’s predecessor parties were shut down over the decades for alleged links to Kurdish fighters, but were quickly re-established under different names.

Pressure on the HDP has increased since Turkey said 13 captives – including Turkish military and police – were killed by PKK fighters in Iraq in a failed Turkish military operation to save them last month.

Openly critical of the human rights record of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, Gergerlioglu said the lawsuit against him was politically motivated and aimed to silence him.

He said he was unfairly removed from his seat before the Constitutional Court reviewed his case and promised not to leave Parliament until the High Court issues its decision.

Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, front row center with a blue mask, and his colleagues make a gesture of peace after Parliament removed its seat on Wednesday [AP]

The decision to expel Gergerlioglu sparked a noisy protest in the boardroom, with HDP lawmakers knocking on desks and accusing Erdogan’s ruling party of attacking democracy.

“I came here with the 90,000 votes of the inhabitants of [the northwestern province of] Kocaeli, ”said Gergeroglu, addressing reporters watching the proceedings. “I am the legislator of my party and I am not going anywhere.”

HDP lawmakers remained in the Assembly Hall in solidarity.

“ A deep contempt for democratic norms ”

Government accuses HDP – third largest party in Turkish parliament – of links to bans PKK.

Dozens of HDP lawmakers and mayors – including former co-chair Selahattin Demirtas, as well as thousands of members – have been arrested in a crackdown on the party.

Two other HDP lawmakers also lost their seats in June.

Gergerlioglu protested against this decision on Wednesday and refused to leave Parliament [AP]

Hugh Williamson, director for Europe and Central Asia of New York-based Human Rights Watch, said on Wednesday that any move to strip Gergerlioglu of his seat “would look like retaliation from the Erdogan government for his position. courageous and vocal in favor of thousands of people. victims of human rights violations ”.

“Gergerlioglu’s conviction is a flagrant violation of his right to freedom of expression and using it as a pretext to expel him from parliament would show a deep contempt for democratic standards and the right of political association,” he said. -he declares.

The decision against Gergerlioglu, a former Erdogan supporter who joined the HDP out of disillusionment, came weeks after the Turkish president’s engagement. a series of human rights reforms.

Gergerlioglu, a former head of a human rights association, denounced several rights violations in Turkey, including alleged illegal strip searches of detainees by police.

He was convicted in 2018 and sentenced to two years and six months in prison for “spreading terrorist propaganda” after retweeting a press article calling for peace with the PKK and commenting that his jailed leader, Abdullah Ocalan, should be involved.

Last month, an appeals court upheld his conviction.

The PKK is considered a “terrorist organization” in Turkey, Europe and the United States.

The PKK has fought an armed uprising against the state in predominantly Kurdish southeastern Turkey since 1984. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

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