European Court of Human Rights Rules Against Turkey’s 2003 Closure of Pro-Kurdish Party

ISTANBUL (Hurriyet)–The European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday that a 2003 decision by Turkey’s top court to ban the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HADEP) violated freedom of assembly and association.

In March 2003, the Turkish Constitutional Court disbanded HADEP and banned several of its members from politics for five years for “spreading terrorist propaganda” and aiding and abetting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

In its decision released Tuesday, the European court said the Constitutional Court violated Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights in its decision to dissolve the party. The court also ordered Turkey to pay former HADEP Secretary-General Turan Demir 24,000 euros plus 2,200 euros for legal expenses.

The European court ruled that members of HADEP “did not incite hatred, revenge, recrimination or armed resistance” by referring to the ongoing conflict between the Turkish military and the PKK as a “dirty war.” The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

The ruling, which is subject to appeal to the court’s Grand Chamber, also noted HADEP’s stated purpose of advocating “a democratic solution to the Kurdish problem.”

“Even if HADEP advocated the right to self-determination for the Kurds, that would not in itself be contrary to democratic principles and could not be equated with supporting acts of terrorism,” the statement read.

HADEP’s closure in 2003 was part of a wave of pro-Kurdish party closures since the PKK took up arms against the Turkish state in the 1980s. Most recently, the Democratic Society Party (DTP) was shuttered in December 2009 for links to the PKK.


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