Turkey’s lawfare against the HDP must stop! – Catalan National Assembly

The Catalan National Assembly strongly condemns the Turkish public prosecutor’s attempts to ban the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). This flagrant violation of democratic rights arrives after years of Turkey’s repression of the democratic opposition forces which represent the Kurdish national minority, among others.

Turkish police have detained over 77 people since last Friday in Istanbul, including three HDP district chairs in the city, over suspected links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as reported by Turkish state news agency Anadolu. Öztürk Türkdoğan, the president of Turkey’s Human Rights Association, has been arrested as well.

Last Wednesday, 17th March,2021, the chief public prosecutor of Turkey’s High Court of Appeals filed a 609-page indictment with the Constitutional Court to demand the closure of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the third largest party in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, which received the support of around 6 million votes in the 2018 general election. On the same day, the government stripped HDP parliamentarian Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu of his status as a member of parliament.

In the past few years, Turkey has cracked down on HDP members, arresting hundreds. Only in the last month, over 718 people, including HDP provincial and district chairs, have been detained in “anti-terror operations”. The coalition AKP-MHP has continued this repression during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This politically motivated operation recalls the Spanish persecution of the pro-independence movement in Catalonia, to the extent that when three Kurdish HDP mayors were sacked in 2019, the then interior minister Suleyman Soylu justified the repressive action by drawing parallels to Spain’s Catalan political prisoners. The Minister added that the European Union could not criticize Turkey while it remained silent on the persecution of elected officials in an EU member state.

In addition, Catalonia’s civil society leaders Jordi Sànchez, former President of the Catalan National Assembly, and Jordi Cuixart, president of Òmnium Cultural, were condemned to 9 years in prison for calling peaceful demonstrations before the independence referendum of October 1st, 2017. A large number of detained HDP officials, including former HDP leader Selahattin Demirtaş, were indicted for calling demonstrations against the siege of the town of Kobane between the 6-8 October 2014.

This flagrant violation of civil and political rights is unlawful, undemocratic, and representative of an authoritarian state.

At the Catalan National Assembly, we have previously denounced Turkey’s abuses against the people of Kurdistan, and we continue to support the Kurds. The ties between the Spanish state and Turkey’s authorities damage the legitimacy of the European democratic project.

We call on the Turkish authorities to immediately halt the proceedings to ban the HDP, to stop the repression against the HDP and to release all HDP elected representatives from prison.

We stand in solidarity with the HDP in their fight against this repression.

Monday, 24th of March, 2021