20 March 2021
In representative democratic regimes the primary means for citizens to participate in politics are the political parties. Dissolution of parties both signifies the exclusion of the social groups that these parties represent from the sphere of demand and debate, and the deprivation of citizens of their opportunity to freely exercise such rights as freedom of expression, assembly, association, and participation that are indispensable for a democratic social order to function.
We, as human rights defenders, observe with deep concern that political and social crises in our country have been deteriorating.
In one of the latest incidents of such crises, human rights defender and People’s Democratic Party (Halkların Demokratik Partisi -HDP) Kocaeli Deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu was stripped of his seat in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (GNAT) at the end of a political trial utterly disregarding basic law principles and without even waiting for the finalization of such an instrumentalized prosecution process by the GNAT. Thus people’s will constituting the basis of democracy has been usurped once again. The same day, people in Turkey have also learnt about the fact that the Court of Cassation’s Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office drafted an indictment to dissolve the HDP and lodged its application to this end before the Constitutional Court. Not only that but the move also came in despite the fact that government officials had announced a “Human Rights Action Plan” in elaborate presentations only two weeks before.
A democratic social order, first and foremost, sets forth that citizens should be able to freely express their beliefs and demands, associate around common demands, and actively participate in public debates and shaping political life. In representative democratic regimes, the primary means for citizens to participate in politics are the political parties. Citizens express their political ideas and demands having been organized through parties, intervene into problems concerning the entire society or a part of it, and participate in public debates and decision-making processes.
We would particularly like to underline that all these are civil and political rights that are also guaranteed by the Constitution and international conventions Turkey is a party to. Therefore dissolution of political parties both signifies the exclusion of the social groups that these parties represent from the sphere of demand and debate, and the deprivation of citizens of their opportunity to freely exercise such rights as freedom of expression, assembly, association, and participation that are indispensable for a democratic social order to function.
HDP is a legitimate mass party that won the votes of 6.5 million citizens in the latest elections. It is, at the same time, the second largest opposition party in Turkey with regards to both voter support and the number of deputies in the GNAT. The bid to dissolve HDP is an extremely alarming development because it will exclude a significant part of the society in Turkey from participatory and representative mechanisms, will deprive them of their opportunity to exercise political rights, and will destroy social peace and the will to co-exist. One should remember that the dissolution of HDP will at the same time signify the exclusion and disregard of a specific sphere of social demand and political opinion.
Today we unfortunately witness a state of affairs in which authorities that hold the public power attempt to permanently repeal human rights, rule of law, and democratic politics themselves. We, thus, urge all citizens to assume responsibility to protect human rights, rule of law, and democracy.
We will shortly announce a comprehensive position paper based on international human rights texts about the role and importance of political parties in democracies in general and the dissolution lawsuit initiated against HDP in particular.
HUMAN RIGHTS FOUNDATION OF TURKEY
HUMAN RIGHTS ASSOCIATION