Rift in CHP over lifting parliamentary immunities widens
A rift within the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) over the controversial move to lift parliamentary immunities has widened, as a party deputy announced his decision to collect the necessary 110 votes from parliamentarians to bring the issue to Turkey’s Constitutional Court, despite party chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s call to MPs to avoid signing a petition.
“The law regarding the lifting of immunities is in violation of the constitution, the law and decisions of the European Court of Human Rights,” said Fikri Sağlar, a CHP deputy from the southern province of Mersin, on June 9.
The aforementioned bill was approved by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan late June 7, paving the way for the trial of 152 legislators over a total 799 cases.
There are no summaries of proceedings against only four of 59 deputies in parliament elected under the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) ticket, while there are summaries of proceedings against the leaders of all three opposition parties holding seats in the national assembly.
“Here is what needs to be understood: People who believe in the supremacy of law should take part in this. Democracy, rights, freedoms can only be obtained through struggles,” Sağlar said, adding people who believe in the rule of law should not permit the continuation of a lawless situation.
Sağlar also warned against a repetition of the past, as the removal of parliamentary immunity has precedent in Turkey. In March 1994, the immunities of four deputies of the now-defunct pro-Kurdish Democratic Labor Party (DEP) – a predecessor of the HDP – were lifted on charges of helping the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Current HDP deputy Leyla Zana, Hatip Dicle, Selim Sadak and late Orhan Doğan were elected for the now-dissolved Social Democratic Populist Party (SHP) before splitting off to form the DEP. They were all dragged out of parliament to serve long jail sentences after their immunities were revoked.
The CHP deputy’s move came only a day after Kılıçdaroğlu said in an interview at private broadcaster CNNTürk that any deputy who worked towards collecting signatures for a petition should leave the party.
Lawmakers from the CHP and the HDP previously issued appeals to the top court on an individual basis after the HDP’s efforts to garner 110 lawmakers for a collective appeal failed due to Kılıçdaroğlu’s strong opposition.
The first individual application was made by CHP Trabzon MP Haluk Pekşen early May 26, followed by another four CHP lawmakers. A total of 58 lawmakers from the 59-person HDP caucus later issued their individual petitions to the top court for the annulment of the constitutional amendment.
CHP Istanbul deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu was also among lawmakers who applied to the court, but he said his application was not an individual appeal but rather was made under Article 85 of the constitution, which address the right to object.
The appeals, however, were rejected by the Constitutional Court.