Turkey’s top court has sent an indictment calling for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) to be banned back to the prosecutor citing procedural grounds, state media reported.
The Constitutional Court ruled that the indictment had procedural omissions and returned it to the Court of Cassation, state-owned Anadolu Agency said on Wednesday. The Court of Cassation can re-submit the indictment after completing the necessary details.
That means the case against the HDP has been delayed for “an indefinite period of time”, private broadcaster NTV said.
A top prosecutor filed the lawsuit earlier this month demanding a ban on the HDP for alleged ties to Kurdish armed groups, as well as a five-year political ban on more than 600 party members.
The move had occurred on the same day that authorities stripped prominent HDP legislator and human rights activist Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu of his parliamentary seat following his conviction on terrorist propaganda charges over a social media posting.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long portrayed the HDP as the political front of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The PKK has waged a conflict against the Turkish state since 1984 in which tens of thousands have been killed. The group is considered a “terrorist organisation” by Ankara and its Western allies.
The prosecutor’s move was the culmination of a years-long crackdown on the HDP under which thousands of its members were tried on mainly “terrorism” charges.
The HDP, parliament’s third-largest party, denied terror links and called the move a “political coup”. Party officials said they would regroup under a different name if banned, as previous Kurdish parties have done after being closed down as part of Turkey’s long history of party bans.
The Turkish authorities’ moves against the HDP and Gergerlioglu were the latest in a years-long crackdown on the second-largest opposition party in parliament. Dozens of elected HDP lawmakers and mayors — including former co-chair Selahattin Demirtas — as well as thousands of party members have been arrested on terror-related accusations.
HDP co-leader Mithat Sancar said earlier on Wednesday the indictment was “an embarrassment in the name of the law and democracy”.
“This attack does not just target the HDP and us, it targets the destruction of the will of the Kurdish people through the HDP. At the same time, it aims to destroy what is left of democracy and the state of law in Turkey,” he said.
Turkey’s Western allies condemned the move to shut down the HDP. Erdogan’s ruling AK Party and its nationalist MHP allies, which have repeatedly called for the party to be closed down, defended the move.