Turkish gov’t rules out HDP’s closure, urges it not to 'abuse freedoms'

Turkish gov’t rules out HDP’s closure, urges it not to 'abuse freedoms'

Turkish gov’t rules out HDP’s closure, urges it not to abuse freedoms

A Turkish soldier stands in front of a picture of Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtas on Nov. 1, in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır. AFP Photo / İlyas Akengin

Claims that plans have been made for the closure of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have further heated up Turkish politics, already tense over the fate of the Kurdish peace process following recent unrest.

Speaking to reporters on Nov. 5, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ urged the HDP not to “abuse freedoms granted by the Constitution,” while strictly ruling out the closure of the party, a debate that was sparked after HDP deputy Hasip Kaplan claimed that the closure of the HDP was discussed during the National Security Council (MGK) meeting last week.

“We, as the AK Party [Justice and Development Party], are against party closures in principle. We have made this point clear at every opportunity,” Bozdağ told reporters on Nov. 5.

He recalled that the government had made party closures “nearly impossible” through a constitutional amendment in 2010, which he said lawmakers of the HDP’s predecessor, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), voted against.

“Turkey was one of the leading countries in party closures [in the past]. Our political environment almost turned into a graveyard of political parties. I am of the opinion that the era of party closures has ended. I don’t think that closing a political party is possible anymore,” Bozdağ added.

Accusing the HDP’s Kaplan of using this argument as a “political tool,” the justice minister urged the HDP to remain within the boundaries of the constitutional frame.

“We have unfortunately observed that the political understanding of the HDP is far from representing a peaceful language,” he said, reiterating the government’s recent calls for the party to adopt a non-violent stance.

Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek similarly underlined that closing political parties should be completely off the political agenda and consigned to the past.

“I do not approve party closures,” Çiçek said, while also drawing the attention to the other side of the coin. “We should all admit the responsibility of political parties for the protection of public order. They should be careful in their language and acts and should not abuse the assurances granted by the Constitution.”

For his part, HDP Diyarbakır deputy Altan Tan said he found it very unfortunate to be discussing party closures at the point where Turkey has arrived today.