The European Union is gravely concerned about the continuing pressure against the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), EU Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Peter Stano said on Feb. 23.
"The European Union is gravely concerned about the continuing pressure against the HDP and several of its members, which has materialized lately through arrests, replacing elected mayors, what seem to be politically motivated judicial proceedings and the attempt of lifting parliamentary immunities of Members of the Grand National Assembly," read Stano's statement.
Turkey: 🇪🇺gravely concerned about continuing pressure against @HDPenglish members w/arrest,politicised judicial actions & attempt 2lift parliamentary immunities. As @coe member & EU candidate country 🇹🇷 must respect human rights, rule of law & freedoms https://t.co/gsLbUps9bg— Peter Stano (@ExtSpoxEU) February 23, 2021
Stano noted that Ankara's pressure against the party adds to its non-implementation of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling regarding the immediate release of former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, "as well as the detention of hundreds of local politicians, elected office holders and of members of the HDP on terrorism-related charges."
"Any alleged wrongdoing or crime needs to be subject to due process and the presumption of innocence must be safeguarded," Stano said.
"As a long-standing member of the Council of Europe and a candidate country, Turkey must safeguard its democratic system, including respect for human rights and the rule of law and the freedom of political association," he added.
The HDP has come under renewed pressure following the deaths of 13 Turkish nationals, including soldiers, police and intelligence personnel, held captive by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq's Gara.
While the government says that they were killed by the PKK, the opposition demands answers from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) regarding how the rescue operation failed.
The Turkish government often targets the HDP over its alleged links to the PKK. Scores of HDP members, including former deputies and co-chairs, are imprisoned on charges related to terrorism. The HDP denies such links.
Stano's remarks drew ire from Ankara, with Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın saying that the bloc should be "concerned about the PKK."
For once, you could perhaps be concerned about the PKK, a terrorist organization on the EU list, which brutally executed 13 people in Gara, Iraq. Or would that get you into trouble with the PKK lobby? https://t.co/D4KdbrnYWv— Ibrahim Kalin (@ikalin1) February 23, 2021
"For once, you could perhaps be concerned about the PKK, a terrorist organization on the EU list, which brutally executed 13 people in Gara, Iraq. Or would that get you into trouble with the PKK lobby?" Kalın asked on Feb. 23, although Stano made no mention of the PKK in his statement.