Abdullah Gül, a founding member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the predecessor as president to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has criticized Turkish authorities for attempting to close the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and for stripping HDP MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu of his parliamentary status, saying he finds these moves “very wrong.”
“I find it very wrong that Kocaleli MP Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu was stripped of his parliamentary seat and that a lawsuit seeking the HDP's closure was launched. How is it not seen that these moves will bring a very meaningless burden to both Turkey and the government?” Gül told Murat Sabuncu from online news portal T24 on March 18.
“The stripping of a lawmaker of his immunity who has nothing to do with violence and advocates for human rights without making any discrimination as well the closure case launched against the party, will bring a burden to our country and our government, which is making an effort to explain that there is a need for more democracy and rule of law in Turkey through reform packages,” Gül said.
The former president said that such moves against pro-Kurdish parties were already undertaken in the 1990s, but resulted in “Turkey's isolation.” “Later, a lot of effort was put in to have those days forgotten. Past experiences have shown that party closures and lifting of immunities very much serve the purposes of terror organizations,” Gül said.
Gül added that Turkey's political history is full of such examples and “making similar mistakes will bring the country great damages.”
A Turkish prosecutor filed a case with the Constitutional Court on March 17 demanding a ban on the HDP, the culmination of a years-long crackdown against the third-largest party in parliament. The HDP called it a "political coup".
The move marks the revival of a long history of Turkey banning pro-Kurdish political parties.
The HDP has said it will regroup as a new party if banned, though the indictment said the prosecutor had demanded a five-year political ban for more than 600 HDP officials - a severe obstacle to any such move.
The HDP won 11.7% support with nearly 6 million votes in a 2018 parliamentary election. It has 55 seats in the 600-member parliament.