Turkish PM meets Kurdish MPs on immunity lifting row
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
AKP deputy Galip Ensarioğlu opposes the lifting of immunities. DHA photo
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has urged Kurdish lawmakers from his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to reach a “common discourse” over the Kurdish issue, particularly over the debate on lifting the immunities of 10 opposition lawmakers.
“Those who are talking about immunities should speak in accordance with party discourse,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying yesterday during a long, closed-door meeting at party headquarters with AKP lawmakers, as well as AKP provincial chairs from eastern and southeastern Anatolia.
The prime minister noted all the concerns and advised his provincial chairs to explain the government’s investments in the region while adding that they were still working on the issue of the immunity files.
There is a perception among Kurdish people that only the immunity of BDP lawmakers will be abolished, AKP lawmakers reportedly said. “The party administration should not allow such a perception to come true,” one lawmaker reportedly said.
Kurdish lawmakers from the AKP publicly voiced their concerns when Erdoğan said they would “take necessary steps” regarding the lifting of the immunity of lawmakers from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).
Nine lawmakers from the BDP, including co-chair Gültan Kışanak, as well as BDP-backed independent lawmaker Aysel Tuğluk, were seen embracing and warmly chatting with armed militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the eastern province of Hakkari’s Şemdinli district Aug. 17.
Following a two-month-long examination, the Van Prosecutors’ Office asked for permission to open an investigation into the BDP deputies on charges of providing aid to the PKK. The prosecutor has demanded the annulment of the deputies’ parliamentary immunity and five- to 10-year-long jail sentences.
However, AKP Diyarbakır lawmaker Galip Ensarioğlu and Batman lawmaker Ziver Özdemir publicly stated their unwillingness to lift the lawmakers’ immunity despite Erdoğan’s well-known aspiration to do so.
Erdoğan attempted to soothe reactions within his party and held a closed-door group meeting last week to hear their misgivings.
During yesterday’s meeting, over 30 lawmakers and provincial chairs took the floor and conveyed their concerns over the issue, according to information obtained by the Hürriyet Daily News from party sources.
Meanwhile, those responsible for a botched air raid in the eastern district of Uludere, in which 34 Kurdish villagers were mistakenly killed by Turkish jets on Dec. 28, 2011, have not yet been disclosed even though a subcommittee under Parliament’s Human Rights Examination Commission was founded to investigate the incident, a provincial head said according to the sources.
“This incident happened during our party’s rule, but light has not been shed on it. This situation strengthens the hands of the PKK and BDP,” a provincial chair reportedly said.
Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay, Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek as well as Labor and Social Security Minister Faruk Çelik also attended yesterday’s meeting.