Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled on Monday that there is no basis for blocking Treasury assistance provided to the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), in response to a request by the Court of Cassation as part of an ongoing case to shut down the party.
The Prosecutor-General’s Office attached to the Court of Cassation called for the imposition of measures to freeze the Treasury aid of 400 million liras (over $16,900,000) provided to the HDP, on the basis that the party had not participated in the parliamentary elections of 14 May.
The request also included the collection of the spent portion of the funds from the party and the individuals responsible for spending it, to be deposited as revenue to the Treasury.
The Constitutional Court unanimously rejected the request of the the Court of Cassation.
The court had frozen the party’s treasury accounts in January as part of the closure case on the request of the Prosecutor-General attached to the Court of Cassation, Bekir Şahin, but in March it reversed the decision and lifted the block on the party’s accounts.
HDP’s non-participation in the recent parliamentary elections
HDP candidates ran for parliament under the Green Left Party’s lists in Turkey’s 14 May elections in order not to risk being excluded completely from the elections in the event that the party was shut down by the Constitutional Court.
The HDP decided to run under the lists of the Green Left Party after the Constitutional Court refused to postpone the case demanding the HDP’s closure until after the elections as the party had requested, as it was scheduled to present its defence two days after the deadline to submit candidate lists to the electoral board. This would have left enough time for the court to rule for closure of the HDP before the elections.
The closure case
The case calling for closure of the HDP is based on an indictment prepared by the Court of Cassation in June 2021 over alleged ties to terrorism. Prosecutor Şahin argued in his petition that the HDP “maintained organic ties with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)” and said that Treasury resources were “being transferred to the terrorist organisation”. The party has denied all charges and called the prosecutor’s allegations “baseless”.
If the party is shut down as a result of the case, almost 500 top officials will be banned from holding office and possibly face criminal charges.
The ongoing closure case against the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is not a first in Turkey. The country has a long history of banning pro-Kurdish parties, since the Kurdish movement’s very first steps into the political scene in the 1990s.