Turkish Parliament receives proposals seeking to lift immunity of 25 opposition lawmakers

Turkish Parliament has received a total of 33 summaries of proceedings seeking to have legislative immunity lifted for 25 opposition lawmakers. The proposals target three main opposition CHP MPs, 20 HDP MPs, one DP MP, and one DBP MP.

Duvar English

Turkey’s Justice Ministry has submitted to Parliament a total of 33 summary of proceedings seeking to have legislative immunity lifted of 25 opposition lawmakers, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Feb. 24.

The Joint Constitution and Justice Committee of Parliament will examine the summary of proceedings prepared by the prosecutors.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan commented on the proposals targeting the opposition, saying that his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and coalition ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) will back lifting the immunity of relevant lawmakers from prosecution.

“The process will proceed as it is. This issue will be discussed at commissions of Parliament and will be taken to General Assembly. And at the General Assembly, hands will go up immediately and then come down [during the voting],” Erdoğan said on Feb. 24.

If Parliament votes to strip the deputies of their immunity from prosecution, they will be tried by Turkish courts.

The proposals target three main opposition Republican Peoples' Party (CHP) MPs, 20 Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) MPs, one Democrat Party (DP) MP, and one Democratic Regions Party (DBP) MP.

Lawmakers face charges such as "making terror propaganda," "praising the crime and criminal," "being a member of an organization established to commit crime," and "instigating people into hatred and animosity." 

Of the accused 20 HDP MPs, eight face charges over the Kobane investigation. Among the charges are "disrupting the state's unity," "killing people," "attempting to kill people," "looting" and "burning flag." 

As part of the Kobane investigation, HDP co-chair Pervin Buldan, Meral Danış Beştaş, Hakkı Saruhan Oluç, Garo Paylan, Hüda Kaya, Sezai Temelli, Pero Dundar, Fatma Kurtulan and Serpil Kemalbay Pekgözegü are targeted. 

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office had last week said that it had "evidence" the relevant HDP deputies "had taken an action in term of starting and continuing the violence-related events." 

In early October, a Turkish court ordered the pre-trial detention of 17 people, including members of the HDP, in connection with the 2014 Kobane protests.

Protesters flooded streets in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast in early October 2014, outraged over the Turkish government’s inaction in protecting Syrian Kurds as ISIS besieged Kobane, just across the Syrian border. The protests led to the deaths of 37 people, as members of Turkish Hizbullah also took to the streets. Ankara accuses the HDP of inciting violence

The recently launched investigation against the HDP members over Kobane protests is the latest in the government’s crackdown on the party. The HDP is often accused of having links with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ have been imprisoned for over four years.