Many European parties, organisations and politicians from more than 20 countries released statements of solidarity with Turkey’s Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which faces the risk of being shut down ahead of 14 May presidential elections.
The wave of support from European politicians and parties started on Monday with a joint statement of the Socialists and Democrats, the Greens/EFA and the Left Groups in the European Parliament which urged Turkish authorities to end the repression of the party and its attempts to close it down.
While the Party of European Socialists said that the closure case is a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Green Party noted that attempts to curtail democratic opposition parties and civil society have no space in modern democracies.
“The UEL strongly condemns an eventual ban of the HDP, a party democratically elected by millions of Turkish people. The politically motivated actions by the Turkish government against the Party should immediately stop. The justice system needs to remain fully independent from politics,” said the United European Left in its statements.
Turkey’s Constitutional Court last week reviewed the HDP’s application for postponing the presentation of the party’s defence after the 14 May elections but decided to set the date as 11 April instead of 14 March instead.
“The final hearing for the defence of HDP was postponed to 11th April by the Constitutional Court but the risk of the party being banned just ahead of elections is very real. It would be a devastating decision for Turkey’s democracy and EU-TR relations,” said Nacho Sánchez Amor, the European Parliament Standing Rapporteur for Turkey.
“The remaining democracy tendencies in Turkey are at stake right now. HDP, as one of the biggest oppositions, needs our solidarity more than ever. Even though the party is qualified for the election ballot, it could be banned by the regime before election day. These intimidation attempts by the Turkish regime against HDP are unacceptable,” said Andreas Schieder, a social-democrat member of the European Parliament from Austria.
The indictment against the pro-Kurdish party not only demands its closure but also a ban on the political activities of almost 500 HDP members.
“The HDP advocates a democratic and pluralist Turkey, in which people live in freedom and justice, for a society in which equality prevails. The emancipation of women, of different ethnic and religious groups, and ecology are important aspects of what the HDP stands for. We demand that the authorities in Turkey end the politically motivated trial against the HDP,” said the European Free Alliance.
“The political motivated trial against HDP, Turkish parliament’s third largest party, which might lead to its ban from Turkish political life, ahead of the general elections in May 2023, is the culmination of the government’s clampdown on political freedoms and dissent. We call on the Turkish Constitutional Court to finally drop these fabricated charges against HDP and allow it to fully play its role as a democratic actor in Turkey,” read a statement shared by the European Green Party.
“We demand the termination of the ongoing politically motivated trial, which is already a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Against this, we stand by the side of the HDP. And plead for a democratic Turkey where all political parties are allowed to emancipate themselves,” said a statement of the Progressive International, signed by Noam Chomsky, Jeremy Corbyn, Yanis Varoufakis, and Jean-Luc Melenchon.
“There is no doubt however, that there is a concerted campaign in Turkey to deny the HDP access to the democratic process. We witnessed this recently during visits to Leinster House by members of the Turkish parliament, which saw members of the HDP deliberately excluded from the delegation,” said John Brady, spokesman for Ireland’s Sinn Féin party.
“We call for the commitment of the European institutions and member states to democracy and the separation of powers in Turkey, and to the guarantee of free and fair elections as a vital element of democracy,” read a statement signed by 55 lawmakers representing different political groups in the Spanish parliament.
If closed, the HDP will not be the first pro-Kurdish party that has been shut down in the political history of Turkey. The fate of pro-Kurdish parties is recurring since the representatives of the first pro-Kurdish party entered the parliament in the early 1990s. In more than three decades, five pro-Kurdish parties have been outlawed by Turkish authorities.