Duvar English

Two lawmakers of the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and one main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy were stripped of their statuses as members of parliament on June 4.

HDP lawmakers Leyla Güven and Musa Farisoğulları and CHP deputy Enis Berberoğlu were stripped of their statuses when Deputy Parliament Speaker Süreyya Sadi Bilgiç read court ruling on the three politicians amid protests from the parties’ seats.

Both Güven and Farisoğulları were tried in the main Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) case and were handed six and nine years in prison, respectively.

HDP deputies are often accused of having links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). A number of its deputies were stripped of their statuses in the past and scores of HDP members, including former lawmakers, are currently imprisoned.

Berberoğlu was sentenced to five years and 10 months in jail in the case into a story on National Intelligence Agency (MİT) trucks filled with weapons bound for Syria in early 2014. He was accused of providing footage of the trucks to journalist Can Dündar and was arrested.

Turkey’s Court of Cassation approved the conviction of Berberoğlu in 2018, while postponing the execution of the five-year jail sentence due to his status as a member of parliament.

While the final court rulings were issued way earlier, no steps were taken by the government to strip them of their statuses until June 4.

Before Bilgiç read the rulings, CHP Group Deputy Chair Engin Altay said, “Don’t read them,” adding that it’s unconstitutional.

He also said that stripping deputies of their statuses is a coup against people’s will.

After Bilgiç read the rulings, deputies chanted slogans against fascism and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). They also slammed the AKP for being “putschists.”

The lawmakers chanted, “The AKP is the enemy of democracy.”

HDP Group Deputy Chairwoman Meral Danış Beştaş said that the judges and prosecutors of the main KCK case were tried and imprisoned over membership of the organization of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, which is officially called the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).

AKP deputy Ravza Kavakçı Kan attempted to approach Beştaş during her speech.

CHP deputy Onursal Adıgüzel made similar remarks, saying that the move is “a proof of the continuation of FETÖ’s coup at the hands of the AKP.”

“The AKP is the political branch of FETÖ,” Adıgüzel said in a tweet.

The Gülen movement, an ally-turned-foe of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AKP, is the believed mastermind of the July 15, 2016 attempted takeover.

‘Resistance is life’

Footage showing the moment Güven learned about the issue was shared on social media.

“Resistance is life,” Güven says in Kurdish.

While the move came as a surprise to both the CHP and the HDP, lawmakers of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), a staunch ally of the AKP, reportedly knew about the issue earlier.

MHP deputies were told to attend the parliament session “because an important issue will be discussed,” Birgün daily reported on June 4.

Commenting on the issue, Berberoğlu said that he wasn’t surprised, adding that he will hand himself to authorities for his remaining sentence, which is 18 months in jail.

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu slammed stripping Berberoğlu of his status, saying that the move is a result of the ongoing July 20, 2016 civilian coup process.

Kılıçdaroğlu was referring to the day that the state of emergency was declared following the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt. While the emergency rule lasted for two years, which was marred by human rights abuses, the CHP says that the unlawful practices are still ongoing.