An office of the Kurdistan Democratic Party - Turkey. Photo: Rudaw TV
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Turkey’s public prosecutor has begun investigations into Kurdish political parties using the word ‘Kurdistan’ in their titles, targeting two so far.
"This decision is not a solution for Turkey. It will rather embolden our belief and struggle to protect ourselves. This will be a legal fight between the government and us," Bayram Bozyel, an official from Kurdistan Socialist Party (PSK), told Rudaw.
He claimed the move was politically motivated.
In addition to PSK, the investigation has also targeted the Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK).
The Kurdistan Democratic Party-Turkey (KDP-T) was warned when it was established in 2014 to remove "Kurdistan" from its name, but it ignored the advice, leader Mihemed Emin Kardas, leader of PDK-T, told Rudaw.
Authorities renewed the warning when the Kurdistan Region in Iraq held its independence referendum in 2017, Kardas added, saying that no action has been taken against them for the name yet.
The Kurdish Freedom and Socialist Party (OSP) recently changed its name to the Kurdistan Communist Party (KKP). They have not encountered any problems with their name.
The party says the government does not want any political activity under the name of Kurds and Kurdistan.
"The Republic of Turkey was established on the principle that there were no Kurds or Kurdistan and they kept that policy to date," said Yasar Kazici, a KKP official, told Rudaw.
Turkey’s constitution stipulates that “The statutes and programs, as well as the activities of political parties shall not be contrary to the independence of the State, its indivisible integrity with its territory and nation ..."
Turkish authorities believe that having "Kurdistan" in a party's name violates this article since these parties consider the provinces of southeastern Turkey as the northern part of Greater Kurdistan.
According to the CIA World Factbook, Kurds make up 19 percent of Turkey's population, or about 15.5 million.
The largest pro-Kurdish party in Turkey does not have Kurdistan in its title – the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). Although largely comprised of Kurdish members, it fights for greater minority, ethnic, and cultural rights for all citizens.
The only party which has waged an outright war against the Turkish state is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is banned Turkey for its four decade, sometimes-armed, struggle against the state.
Reporting by Mashalla Dakak
CLARIFICATION: The supreme court has begun an investigation after the public prosecutor filed a complaint. No official ruling or decree has been made.