Accused HDP MP was at PKK camp at behest of state, says party

HDP co-chair Mithat Sancar has commented on the government's move to strip HDP MP Semra Güzel of her deputyship over a 2014-dated photo of her with a PKK member at a camp in northern Iraq. Sancar said that Güzel was there “with the encouragement of the AKP government” as part of the ongoing peace process between the Turkish state and PKK.

HDP co-chair Mithat Sancar (L) is seen addressing a meeting in this file photo.

Duvar English

The Turkish government seeks to strip Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) MP Semra Güzel of her deputyship over an old photo of her with Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) member Volkan Bora at a camp in Iraqi Kurdistan. Bora was killed in 2017 in an operation.

Semra Güzel
Semra Güzel

In a statement published earlier this week, Güzel said that she was not politically active at the time, that she was engaged to Bora, and that the photo was taken in 2014 during the peace process between the PKK and the Turkish state -- initiated by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). 

HDP co-chair Mithat Sancar talked to Altan Sancar from online news outlet Diken with regards to the prosecutors' plan to put Güzel on trial. Stating that these photos were taken in 2014 when the peace process was still ongoing, Sancar said the AKP enabled the groundwork for this.

“While the process was going on, with the encouragement of the AKP government, tens of thousands of people had the opportunity to see their PKK member children, relatives and loved ones. The government itself prepared the way,” Sancar said.

“We are talking about a period when meeting tents were set up for families. A simple research might reveal that this had been also done in Qandil [PKK's main base]. This has been done not only in Qandil, but also in Turkey. It is clear hypocrisy to use photographs of such a period as an operation material against the HDP, while its story has been told in a very humane and sincere manner,” Sancar further said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan directly targeted Güzel in his speech during the AKP's parliamentary group meeting on Jan. 12. Vowing to undertake the “necessary action,” Erdoğan said: “Here is one of your partners, holding hands with a terrorist. Unfortunately, as an extension of the PKK, this woman is in parliament. Necessary action will be taken in the commission. We do not want to see such people in our parliament. We do not want to see PKK terrorist organization extensions in our parliament.”

The prosecutors have already sent the summary of proceedings against Güzel, in an attempt to lift her parliamentary immunity, to the parliament.

Devlet Bahçeli, the leader of the ultranationalist far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), called for the stripping of Güzel's immunity as well. “The necessary legal proceedings against this separatist deputy and the actions regarding the stripping of her immunity should be undertaken and completed immediately,” he said during the MHP’s parliamentary group meeting on Jan. 11.

Meanwhile opposition İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener made it clear that they are going to vote on behalf of striping Güzel of her immunity. "The stance of the İYİ Party is clear and unequivocal on the issues of aiding and abetting terrorism," she said in a statement to the press on Jan. 14.

A number of HDP deputies were stripped of their statuses in the past and scores of party members, including former lawmakers, are currently imprisoned.

In 2021, Turkish authorities launched a new lawsuit to close the HDP.