The European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning the repression of opposition political parties in Turkey, particularly the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and urged the Turkish Government to ensure freedom for all parties to exercise their legitimate activities in accordance with the basic principles of a democratic system.
The Parliament members underlined that progress on any agenda with the Turkish Government should be dependent on the human rights situation. The resolution was adopted by 603 votes in favour, 2 against, with 67 abstentions.
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) strongly condemned the indictment refiled by Turkey’s Chief Public Prosecutor at the Constitutional Court seeking the dissolution of the HDP, the third largest political party in the Turkish Parliament, and a political ban on nearly 500 of its party members.
It was noted that the case against the HDP represented the culmination of a years-long crackdown which has seen thousands of party members, executives, MPs and mayors tried, mainly on ‘terrorism’-related charges.
Allowing the HDP to participate unhindered in Turkey’s democratic institutions is one simple way to make Turkish society more inclusive and generate positive momentum towards a peaceful settlement of the Kurdish issue, MEPs stated. They also condemned the decision of the Turkish authorities to remove democratically elected mayors from office on the basis of questionable evidence and replace them with unelected ‘trustees.’
Forty eight out of 65 mayors, including eight city mayors, elected to office in 2019 as HDP candidates have been removed and replaced with ‘trustees’ by Ankara. Several mayors have additionally been arrested with ‘terror’-related charges.
MEPs also pointed to the political, legislative and administrative measures taken by the Turkish Government to paralyse municipalities run by the mayors of opposition parties in Turkey’s three largest cities, Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.
The MEPs warned that these actions continue to undermine the ability of the political opposition to exercise their rights and fulfil their democratic roles. The MEPs appealed to Turkey to ensure that pluralism and freedom of association and expression are respected.
The resolution called on the EU Delegation to Turkey to monitor the situation by observing trials, including the ‘Kobanî trial,’ making public statements and requesting permission for prison visits.
One hundred and eight HDP executives and members, including the former party leaders Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, are accused in the ‘Kobanî trial’ of organising events that ended up with multiple deaths. In October 2014, there was a call by the HDP to protest against the Turkish Government’s isolation of the resistance in Rojava’s Kobanî which fought to stop the assault of ISIS on the city with very limited resources. During the protests, 46 people – most of whom were associated with HDP – were killed, and more than 600 wounded.
MEPs stated that, apart from improvements in foreign policy issues, progress on any positive agenda that could be offered to Turkey should be dependent on improvements in the civil and human rights and rule of law situation in the country, including women’s rights, such as those guaranteed by the Istanbul Convention, religious freedom, and the rights of ethnic minorities and the LGBTI community.