Prosecutors file to lift immunity from 15 opposition deputies
A prosecutor’s office in Turkey’s capital city of Ankara has filed requests to lift the parliamentary immunity of 15 opposition deputies, Turkish news site Diken said on Friday, citing a report from the Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency.
The prosecutor wishes to take press charges on 12 deputies from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) for allegedly creating propaganda for terrorists, and three from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has piled constant pressure on the HDP since it became the first pro-Kurdish party to win enough votes to break the country’s 10 per cent electoral threshold in the June 2015 elections.
Shortly after the elections, a peace process broke down between the AKP and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a terrorist-designated armed group that has fought for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since the 1980s.
The charges against the 12 HDP deputies are related to statements made criticising Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch, a military assault launched in January this year against Syrian-Kurdish groups linked to the PKK in northwest Syria. They also refer to political statements made on International Women’s Day on March 8.
Dozens of high-profile HDP politicians and activists have faced legal action since 2015 due to their alleged links to the PKK, including two of the party’s former co-chairs, Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ.
The CHP politicians have been accused of “insulting the president,” a crime with a maximum four-year prison sentence according to the Turkish constitution, which does not clearly define what constitutes an insult. Erdoğan has launched around 2,000 legal cases against Turkish citizens, including schoolchildren, for alleged insults.
The Turkish parliament decided to make it possible to lift politicians’ parliamentary immunity in a controversial vote in May 2016.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu may have come to regret backing the vote, which has seen several of his party’s deputies and prominent figures sentenced, including Istanbul deputy Enis Berberoğlu.
The HDP politicians facing the latest round of legal problems are Ayhan Bilgen, Ayşe Acar Başaran, Alican Önlü, Berdan Öztürk, Bedia Özgökçe Ertan, Feleknas Uca, Filiz Keresteci, Kemal Bülbül, Meral Danış Beştaş, İmam Taşçıer, Nimetullah Erdoğmuş and Pervin Buldan.
On the CHP side, Çetin Osman Budak, Erdin Bircan and Aykut Erdoğdu face charges. Source
HDP deputies Adem Geveri, Bedia Özgökçe Ertan and Lezgin Botan are facing charges of disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization in their messages on social media regarding the operation in Afrin.
The summaries of proceedings against the deputies have been sent to the Turkish Parliament by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
The Turkish military and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters on Jan. 20 launched Operation Olive Branch in Afrin against the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey sees as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have reacted strongly to people who oppose the operation, and prosecutor’s offices have initiated investigations into those who share social media messages critical of the operation.
30 January 2017:
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Lezgin Botan, who was detained on Monday as part of an ongoing crackdown on the Kurdish political movement in Turkey, was released late on the same day.
Botan had been detained and released on Jan. 27 along with fellow deputy Adem Geveri due to the deputies’ absence from hearings in a trial in which they are accused of membership in a terrorist organization and terrorist propaganda.
The two Kurdish deputies are also banned from travelling abroad.
As a crackdown against the Kurdish political movement in Turkey continues, a court in Van province on Friday issued arrest warrants for Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputies Lezgin Botan and Adem Geveri.
The court based the decision on the deputies’ absence from hearings in a trial in which they are accused of membership in a terrorist organization and terrorist propaganda.The two Kurdish deputies are also banned from travelling abroad.