AKP crack on immunity row

AKP crack on immunity row

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
AKP crack on immunity row

AKP MP Ensarioğlu

One of the government’s leading Kurdish MPs has vowed to oppose his party’s move to strip opposition MPs of their immunity for chatting with militants, saying the matter must be decided by voters. “If their annulment files are put to the vote in Parliament, my position is very clear. I will vote against [the move],” Galip Ensarioðlu said.

“It’s being argued that BDP [Peace and Democracy Party] deputies have committed a crime and that’s why some favor their immunity being lifted. I’m against this option. The end of legislative session should be waited for. If lawmakers commit a crime, it should be left to the voters’ discretion; lawmakers should be accountable to the ballot box,” said Ensarioğlu, a Diyarbakır deputy for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Ensarioğlu said lawmakers should be accountable to their constituencies unless they are caught red-handed. “If the BDP lends its support to arms and violence, we have to complain about them to the people.”

BDP lawmakers, including co-chair Gültan Kışanak, were seen embracing and warmly chatting with armed outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants near Şemdinli in Hakkari province Aug. 17. Following a two-month-long examination, the Van Prosecutors’ Office asked for permission to open a probe into the BDP deputies on charges of providing aid to the PKK. The prosecutor has demanded annulment of the deputies’ parliamentary immunity and five-to-10-year jail sentences.

Erdoğan, who previously had called on the judiciary to take action against the BDP deputies, reiterated his will to support the annulment of their immunities on Nov. 26. The Prime Ministry abruptly provided the Parliamentary Speaker’s Office with a summary of proceedings on nine BDP deputies, as well as one independent deputy on Nov. 27.

The swiftness of the submission caused discomfort among Kurdish deputies within the AKP, and they decided to open an intra-party debate after reactions from their hometowns. The AKP’s Kurdish deputies worry about a possible decrease in their parties’ popular support in eastern and southeastern Anatolia if the BDP lawmakers’ immunity is annulled.

According to procedure, the proceedings will now be sent to the Parliament’s Joint Constitution and Justice Commission. If the members of the joint commission give their consent, they will be sent to the General Assembly, whose vote result may pave the way to try the deputies.

The AKP administration is discussing how to implement the procedure, as there are hundreds of immunity files about lawmakers from all four parties. The senior members of the ruling party are expected to suggest lifting the immunity of the lawmakers who are accused of being involved in terrorism.