In a written testimony to Turkey’s Constitutional Court (AYM), honorary chairman of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and former MP Ertuğrul Kürkçü said the court case against his party would have dire consequences for the whole country.
“Shutting down the HDP means shutting down Turkey,” Mezopotamya Agency cited Kürkçü as saying. “The consequences will be different from previous times when parties were shut down, due to the political vacuum that will emerge.”
The HDP is facing the threat of shutdown over allegations of ties to terrorism. In addition to demanding the closure of the party, the prosecution is also demanding a five-year ban from engaging in politics for top politicians from the party, 451 of them in total including former and current co-chairs and MPs.
Kürkçü, one of the 451 politicians, submitted his defence on 19 January, arguing that the court case was not a legal procedure but rather a political attack by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to eliminate the opposition. He said:
“The issue is the government trying to eliminate its political opponents via ‘methods that also include coercion’, and sending the coercive tools of the state against its rivals to that end. This case has been brought before the Constitutional Court to make an instrument of the highest judicial body, which provides the armour of legitimacy to the state’s monopoly on violence, and to illegitimately put it up against the HDP. This is a political plot.”
The former deputy continued:
“The government’s fury against the HDP and its pursuit of eliminating the movement stems not from the HDP ‘resorting to terrorism to tear down public order and fracture the fatherland’ but, on the contrary, from it staying within the bounds of the playing field and providing an alternative narrative for society against the official discourse. This desire comes from the need to shelve the decades-old ‘terrorism’ discourse after the emergence of the HDP on the political scene, and the fact that the HDP’s use of a language which recognises the true character of society as being made up of pluralistic, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-lingual classes that can have conflicting interests is seen as acceptable and legitimate.”
The HDP and the Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK) from which it emerged have refrained from violence in their advocacy, and paved paths for the people to take initiative and authority in various areas of life via methods of democratic and peaceful politics, allowing self-governance via assemblies, Kürkçü said.
“The HDP created a third pole in the political arena that has been bipolar since the Ottomans. It bridged the gap between the Kurdish demand for democratic autonomy and the Turkish demand for a democratic republic.”
The party, made up of Kurdish and left-wing constituents, has not committed any crimes, Kürkçü said, adding:
“What the HDP has done is considered a crime today because it translated the social to the political, and looked beyond the established order. In a completely legitimate move, it put concrete, sincere and real politics that rose on the idea of an innovative and pro-freedom country and society, against the government’s societal model that is conservative and unjust.”
During the peace process between Turkey and the PKK that continued from 2013 to 2015, Kurds put all their effort and hopes into not returning to armed conflict again for at least one generation, Kürkçü said.
In the four years between 2011 and 2015, Kurds who had moved away or were forcibly sent away returned to their lands and made investments, new cultural and education centres were established, and in the pursuit of a new life for their children, all of society worked on a “tremendous material and spiritual transformation”, Kürkçü said.
“Whenever they were asked, they voted for their own party, the HDP,” he added.
“Racism and political Islam declared war on this new life that emerged on Turkey’s horizon,” Kürkçü continued. “The governing bloc today was established on the night of 7 June 2015, when the HDP overcame the election threshold and emerged as the third party in Turkey. It was that moment that [the Turkish president] Erdoğan knew that he could not remain afloat without [MHP leader] Devlet Bahçeli).”
The war against Kurdish politics was planned back in 2014, in what is infamously known as the ‘Collapse Operation’, according to Kürkçü.
“It can clearly be seen that the state security apparatus was preparing to punish both the HDP and society itself because there was open, democratic politics and no engagement with violence,” he said.
“Those holding power have realised that as long as the HDP exists as an open, active and legitimate socio-political force, the consent of the majority cannot be manufactured for a restoration where religion and ethnicity are dominant. That Turkey cannot be collapsed unless the HDP is collapsed first.”
The shut-down of the HDP would “scrape away all remaining social and political gains made by the century-long struggle for democracy and freedom”, Kürkçü said.
“How this case will play out is not just important for the HDP. The HDP is more than the sum of its parts. It is an exceptional political experience,” he added. “No terrorist organisation could have held together the plurality that came together with the HDP and the HDK under constant state violence.”
Racist and sectarian circles wish to strip millions of HDP supporters of the right to participate in elections, so they can remain in power for one more term, he said.
“This is not just a matter for Turkey either. The closure of the HDP is an international matter, as the regime as a racist and invading force and a dynamic for permanent war and destruction will harm regional and international peace.”
“I will resist the closure of our party to the end. I wholeheartedly believe that the social and democratic forces in Turkey and the dynamics of civilisation around the world will prevail, they will not allow this destruction of the HDP, and that we will win the case and defeat fascism and bigotry in the end.”