28 November 2018:
Erdogan's office asks to strip opposition leaders, 19 MPs of immunity
The office of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday demanded from the country’s Parliament to strip the leaders of the main and Kurdish opposition parties of immunity along with 19 other lawmakers, to pave the way for potential prosecution.
The move comes only a week after the European Court of Human Rights, which Turkey is a party to, ruled that Ankara was unjustly and politically holding Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtas in detention for two years and that authorities had to release him.
It is also the latest in a far-reaching crackdown on the opposition, Kurdish movement, and civil society that has over the past two years seen the jailing of up to 150,000 people, 50,000 of them now political prisoners.
The Presidency has sent the parliament 43 files containing criminal charges against the Co-chair of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Pervin Buldan, leader of the largest opposition bloc, the Republican People's Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, and other MPs from their respective parties, the state media reported.
If approved by a majority of lawmakers, they will have to face the charges by prosecutors, and also appear in front of courts that could land them in jail—as was the case with Demirtas and a dozen other now-former lawmakers from the previous parliament.
It was not immediately clear what the accusations against them were.
However, earlier reports this month by the pro-government media wrote that charges against the opposition politicians varied from “terrorist membership, terrorist propaganda to insulting the President,” based on their speeches.
Both Buldan and Kilicdaroglu are members of the national assembly which is dominated by Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its junior far-right ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the number of whose lawmakers suffices to purge their rivals.
Among HDP MPs targeted by the latest move from Erdogan’s administration are Feleknas Uca and Ayse Acar Basaran of Batman, Dirayet Dilan Tasdemir and Berdan Ozturk of Agri, Nimetullah Erdogmus of Sanliurfa, Ayhan Bilgen of Kars, Bedia Ozgokce Ertan of Van, Imam Tascier and Garo Paylan of Diyarbakir, Mahmut Togrul of Gaziantep, and Filiz Kerestecioglu Demir of Ankara.
Those from the CHP who may lose parliamentary immunity from prosecution are Mehmet Goker of Burdur, Okan Gaytancioglu of Edirne, Mustafa Sezgin Tanrikulu, Mahmut Tanal, and Aykut Erdogdu of Istanbul, Kadim Durmaz of Tokat, Cetin Osman Budak of Antalya. Source
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
Nimetullah Erdoğmuş, a pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Diyarbakır deputy and a former mufti of Diyarbakır who was detained on Thursday on allegations of leading civilian Friday prayers in 2011, was released after testifying to a prosecutor in Ankara on Friday.
Erdoğmuş was detained by police when leaving Parliament on Thursday evening as part of an investigation conducted by the Diyarbakır Public Prosecutor’s Office over leading civilian Friday prayers that were performed in the street and attended by thousands of Kurds in order to boycott government mosques, where only appointed Sunni imams lead prayers. He was then taken to Ankara Police Department following a health check.
16 December 2016:
Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Diyarbakır deputy Nimetullah Erdoğmuş, a former mufti of Diyarbakır, was detained by police on Thursday on allegations of leading civilian Friday prayers in 2011 that were performed in the street and attended by thousands of Kurds in order to boycott government mosques, where only appointed Sunni imams lead prayers.
As part of an investigation conducted by the Diyarbakır Public Prosecutor’s Office, Erdoğmuş was detained by police when leaving Parliament on Thursday evening and was taken to an Ankara Police station following a health check.
On Dec. 8, the Diyarbakır Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into Erdoğmuş over suspicions of spreading terrorist propaganda by leading the civilian Friday prayers in 2011.
The Diyarbakır public prosecutor is also seeking a sentence from one to five years over Erdoğmuş’s statements calling Turkish security force operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) “illegal.”
In 2011, led by HDP deputies and politicians, thousands of Kurds attended alternate Friday prayers in the street instead of at state mosques led by imams appointed by Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate, claiming that then-Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government was trying to “Turkify” and “Sunnify” Kurds.
Erdoğmuş led the civilian Friday prayers, which meant boycotting government mosques and holding the prayers in the street, with an unofficial imam, who is Kurdish.
In a recent statement to the Al-Monitor website, Erdoğmuş said that aside from Alevi Kurds, most Kurds belong to the Sunni school of Shafi, whereas most Turks – including almost all imams appointed by government — are Sunni Hanafi.
7 October 2016:
The Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Friday summoned six lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) to testify over terrorism allegations, in a move that will likely exacerbate the Kurdish conflict.
HDP deputies Leyla Zana, Altan Tan, Meral Danış Beştaş, Sibel Yiğitalp, İmam Taşçıer and Nimetullah Erdoğmuş will testify to the prosecutor, NTV reported. A series of investigations into Kurdish politicians have taken place since a law lifting the immunity from prosecution of HDP deputies went into effect this summer.