Turkey’s Court of Cassation’s chief public prosecutor has removed Canan Kaftancıoğlu as a member of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on Tuesday as part of the court’s political ban order against the popular politician.
“CHP was founded on the battlefield, not in law offices. CHP membership is a matter of conviction, heart and labour,” Kaftancıoğlu said in a tweet following the ruling. “Their fear will do them no good.”
“Our chairman spoke about this matter before. This is irrelevant to us. We continue with our work,” a spokesperson from CHP Istanbul told daily Cumhuriyet.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on 12 May said the party would defy the court order and continue to treat Kaftancıoğlu as the chairwoman of their Istanbul branch.
Istanbul’s 39 district CHP branches also announced that they will continue to recognise Kaftancıoğlu as their chairwoman.
The Court of Cassation issued the ban against Kaftancıoğlu after upholding a 4 year 11 month and 20 day prison sentence over her social media posts, on charges of insulting a public official. At the time, pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy group chairwoman Meral Danış Beştaş said the ruling was politically motivated and a sign that the government was using the judiciary to eliminate opponents.
As one of the top female CHP officials, Kaftancıoğlu played a critical role in the 2019 local elections, building bridges between her party and Istanbul’s Kurdish and left-wing residents to ensure a landslide victory for Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, who ended two decades of conservative rule in the megacity of 16 million people.
The politician has been targeted since by both pro-government circles and nationalist groups, including from within her own party, for her good relations with Kurds and the HDP. Kaftancıoğlu has been called ‘a terrorist’ on pro-government media, and charged with terrorist propaganda by Turkey’s courts.