CHP lawmakers follow their leader in immunity protest

CHP lawmakers follow their leader in immunity protest

CHP lawmakers follow their leader in immunity protest

Deputies of opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) stage a rally in support of their leader at the Parliament after submitting their application to scrap their immunity. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

All Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmakers submitted applications yesterday to have their judicial immunity lifted in an unprecedented action of protest after a prosecutor moved to put Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on trial for criticizing the judiciary.

Following in the footsteps of their chairman, the deputies gathered in Parliament and marched to the speaker’s office, clapping their hands and chanting, “We want impartial judiciary.”

“I do not give a damn about the charges. I will speak out to the end. I do not have any fears. I would bow down only to the people,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in remarks at a farmers’ congress.

Keeping up his defiant attitude, the CHP leader dismissed the prosecutor’s charges that he had attempted to influence fair trials and insulted the judiciary, vowing to continue to speak out about what he described as a government-backed judicial campaign to bully opponents.

In Parliament, CHP Deputy Group Chairman Akif Hamzaçebi said the judiciary had come under government control thanks to the constitutional changes approved in the 2010 referendum.

“The Justice and Development Party [AKP] has formed a coalition with special-authority prosecutors. This coalition will be one day torn down,” Hamzaçebi said. “Rights and freedoms are not guaranteed in Turkey today. The principle of the separation of powers has been abolished and therefore there is no constitution. The final phase of this process is squelching the CHP.”

In southern Adana province, CHP Deputy Chairman Sezgin Tanrıkulu said the special-authority courts had become “a tool to design politics” and vowed the CHP would “wage the struggle for democracy in the streets throughout Turkey.”

Lawmakers’ judicial immunities are lifted through a vote in Parliament, a procedure that is rarely implemented.

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said he was against prosecuting politicians for what they said but added “politicians must refrain from rhetoric that insults the judiciary or presents them as being under the command of others.” Bozdağ’s comments were softer than the position of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has lent support to the prosecutors and said the judicial move against Kılıçdaroğlu was long overdue.

Speaking to reporters while passing by CHP deputies in Parliament, AKP Deputy Group Chairman Mustafa Elitaş said the main opposition was creating a “storm in a teacup” and similar judicial proceedings had also been launched against Erdoğan.

The CHP received support from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), whose Deputy Group Chairman Oktay Vural said Erdoğan’s vocal approval of the prosecutors was in itself an indication of political meddling with the judiciary.