In an unconstitutional move, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Deputy Group Chair Bekir Bozdağ on Jan. 30 read the ruling of the Court of Cassation, top appeals court, to revoke the deputyship of jailed Can Atalay, from the Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP), while leading the General Assembly of the Turkish Parliament.
Atalay received an 18-year prison sentence for allegedly "attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey" during the 2013 Gezi Park protests. In the 2023 general elections, he was elected as Hatay deputy from the left-wing TİP.
Despite the Constitutional Court ruled for the release of Atalay twice, the Court of Cassation unconstitutionally refused to comply with the Constitutional Court.
While Bekir Bozdağ was reading the Court of Cassation’s ruling to revoke Atalay’s deputyship, opposition deputies walked towards the rostrum while shouting “You are violating the Constitution,” and “You cannot read that.” Aysu Bankoğlu from the main opposition CHP threw a constitution booklet at Bozdağ.
CHP'li Aysu Bankoğlu, Can Atalay kararını okuyan Bekir Bozdağ'a Anayasa kitapçığı fırlattı pic.twitter.com/HHalMSFmej— duvaR (@gazeteduvar) January 30, 2024
The deputies held banners reading “Freedom for Can Atalay,” and “Can Atalay is the will of the people.”
After reading the ruling among the brawl, Bozdağ ended the session.
Meclis’te Can Atalay'ın vekilliği düşürüldü: Vekiller kürsüyü bastı, oturuma ara verildi pic.twitter.com/19pV71YhGt— duvaR (@gazeteduvar) January 30, 2024
Before Bozdağ’s reading, TİP leader Erkan Baş said only Bekir Bozdağ could have read this ruling, not the Parliament Speaker or other deputy speakers. “Mafia keep those they know are criminals with them and make them do the dirtiest jobs. You can only make this read to Bekir Bozdağ, who murdered justice in Turkey.”
Bozdağ was the Justice Minister between 2013-2017 and 2022-2023.
In a social media post, Atalay said “Even this happened, they did this too. The Constitution is clear. Despite its provisions that left no room for doubt, they stripped the elected Hatay MP from his deputyship.”
Yurttaşlar,— can atalay (@CanAtalay1) January 30, 2024
Bu da oldu, bunu da yaptılar.
Anayasa’nın açık; hiçbir kuşkuya yer bırakmayan hükümlerine karşın seçilmiş Hatay milletvekilinin milletvekilliğini “düşürdüler”.
Hukuk tanımazlığın, kuralsızlaşmanın bu boyutlara gelmesine yine de şaşırıyorum. Türkiye Büyük Millet… pic.twitter.com/vkti9yFRuB
Former CHP deputy and constitutional lawyer İbrahim Kaboğlu said the revoke “is legally null and void” as it was against the decision of the Constitutional Court.
Main opposition CHP leader Özgür Özel called on citizens “to react to the coup attempt.” He said “Ignoring the Constitution means ignoring the state. Those who ignore one clause today will ignore the other clause tomorrow. The constitution is the guarantee of our property and lives. Without a constitution, there is no state. Those who ignore the Constitution are a threat to Can Atalay and Hatay today, but to you tomorrow.”
Bu darbe girişimine karşı direneceğiz, mücadele edeceğiz.— Özgür Özel (@eczozgurozel) January 30, 2024
Bu mücadelede herkesi direnmeye, mücadeleye ve bu darbe girişimine karşı pozisyon almaya, tepki göstermeye davet ediyoruz!#CanAtalay pic.twitter.com/qYCw9QEn9o
Can Atalay’s lawyer Deniz Özen said they would apply to the Constitutional Court once again.
The opposition Good (İYİ) Party leader Meral Akşener said “Of course, we are not surprised that Mr. Erdoğan chose to escalate the problem between state organs rather than solving it! However, our constitution is the oath of the nation! How will you represent the will of a nation whose oath you violated from now on? On what will you base the legitimacy of the decisions you implement?”
Bugüne kadar yargı makamları arasında çözülemeyen bir anayasal devlet krizine, ne yazık ki bu akşam Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi de dahil oldu.— Meral Akşener (@meral_aksener) January 30, 2024
Can Atalay'ın milletvekilliğinin düşürülmesi kararıyla birlikte artık anayasasız bir devlet tehlikesine doğru sürükleniyoruz.
The TİP and CHP protested the move in Istanbul’s Beşiktaş district in the evening.
The 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation, Turkey's top appeals court, on Jan. 3 dismissed the second Constitutional Court (AYM) ruling that found rights violations in TİP MP Can Atalay’s imprisonment.
The AYM first on Oct. 25 ruled by a majority of votes that there was a violation of rights in the case of Atalay in terms of "the right to vote and be elected and the right to personal security and liberty."
The 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation on Nov. 8 refused to comply with the AYM ruling. The court also filed a criminal complaint against AYM justices who voted for Atalay’s release, claiming they violated the constitution and exceeded their authority.
Then, the AYM on Dec. 26 released a statement and underscored that the "Court of Cassation has rendered a decision that is not found in Turkish law, stating non-compliance with the Constitutional Court's decision."
The AYM commented that referral of a case within the jurisdiction of the first-instance court to the Court of Cassation, top appeals court, and the latter’s decision disregarding constitutional provisions “clearly constituted a violation of the constitution.”