15 MPs, deputy speaker of Turkish Parliament banned from traveling abroad

Following a proposal in the Turkish Parliament to create a delegation to visit Palestine, Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Sırrı Sürreya Önder, representing HEDEP and presiding over the session, mentioned that 15 deputies and himself were banned from traveling abroad.

Duvar English

Some 15 lawmakers from the Peoples' Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP), formerly known as the Green Left Party (YSP), were banned from leaving Turkey even though they gained legislative immunity. 

After the Israeli attacks on Gaza that killed thousands of people, a Felicity Party MP proposed to form a parliamentary delegation to visit Palestine.  

In response, Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Sırrı Sürreya Önder, representing HEDEP and presiding over the session, stated that he could not join the delegation even though he wanted to because he was banned from traveling abroad. 

“15 deputies of our (parliamentary) group would not be able to participate in this visit due to the letter written by a bureaucrat in the Interior Ministry, not due to a court decision. Not only are their passports restricted, but also the passports of their children, spouses, and first-degree relatives are restricted,” Önder added.

Önder remained subject to a court-imposed travel ban as an ongoing lawsuit against him had not been lifted even after he was elected as an MP. 

Önder is on trial for "membership of an armed terrorist organization and disrupting the unity of the state and the integrity of the country,” according to Yalçın Doğan from online news outlet T24.

Önder appealed to the court after his election as a lawmaker, but the court ruled that he did not qualify for immunity "because the alleged offense was against the state" and did not lift his ban on leaving the country.

According to the court, the ban can only be temporarily lifted if Önder proves that his travel is related to his work in parliament.

“A bureaucrat can place himself above the judiciary and restrict the freedom of movement of a deputy here - I'm not talking about me, there is (at least) a court decision on me - I think this should be the problem of the whole Parliament,” Önder added regarding the other deputies.

While main opposition Republican People’s Party and nationalist opposition Good (İYİ) Party and CHP groups expressed criticism against this practice, ruling coalition Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) groups did not comment.