Former opposition MP released from prison as part of virus measures
Former lawmaker Enis Berberoğlu was allowed to be held in an open prison and was released late on June 5 as part of measures against the novel coronavirus.
Berberoğlu has the legal right to be transferred to an open prison due to the time he already spent in prison in a previous arrest.
All inmates in the open prison were allowed to leave the prison until July 31, 2020 as part of outbreak precautions.
Three opposition lawmakers, including two Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputies and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) MP Berberoğlu, who were stripped of their statuses as members of the Turkish Parliament, were arrested early June 5.
Istanbul deputy Berberoğlu from the CHP and Hakkari deputy Leyla Güven and Diyarbakır deputy Musa Farisoğulları from the HDP were stripped of their seats in parliament after the final verdict from the Supreme Court of Appeals over their cases were read by deputy Parliament Speaker Süreyya Sadi Bilgiç upon a presidential motion.
“This decision did not surprise me because there has been no improvement in the conditions of democracy in Turkey since I was released,” Berberoğlu told reporters on June 4.
Referring to the remarks of CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu last week, who said, “If a price is to be paid for democracy, CHP members pay this price first,” Berberoğlu said he shared the same view.
“I am aware of this… I may not be in front of you for five years, perhaps because a political ban will be implemented, but know that I am always with the CHP and I will remain with the CHP,” he said.
“The Republic of Turkey is always staging a coup against the Kurds who are carrying out of democratic politics. The coup does not necessarily have to be armed. Political coups are mostly applied to Kurds,” the HDP’s Güven said.
Demonstrations, sit-ins, hunger strikes, setting up a tent, opening a stand in Hakkari, the southeastern province Güven represents, has been prohibited for 15 days, the governor’s office said on June 4.
“It is not appropriate that Enis is accused of terrorism and espionage,” İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener said in a televised interview.
Akşener said the work of Berberoğlu as a journalist “does not have a record of crime.”
Berberoğlu was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2017 on espionage charges for providing daily Cumhuriyet with a video purporting to show Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucking weapons into Syria.
He was released from prison in late 2018 after a 15-month imprisonment. He was re-elected as an MP in the June 24, 2018 elections.
Berberoğlu has applied to the Constitutional Court for “violation of his rights” and the process has yet to be finalized. The files of the HDP deputies are in the Constitutional Court assessment as well.
Leyla Güven, who was elected to represent the southeastern province of Hakkari in June 2018, was released from prison in January 2019 after an 11-week hunger strike. She was accused of “conducting terror activities” following her statements and social media posts on Turkey’s “Operation Olive Branch” against the YPG in northwestern Syria.
The prosecutor demanded more than 31 years in jail for Güven in February after accusing her of “establishing and managing an armed terrorist organization” as well as “making terrorist propaganda.”
Farisoğulları was sentenced to nine years in prison in the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) case.
Parliament speaker refutes claims
In the meantime, Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop, speaking to reporters on June 5, refuted claims on the dismissal of the three parliamentarians and slammed the opposition parties for not respecting the constitution.
“I am deplored to see that the opposition’s objections are baseless according to the constitution and the parliamentary bylaw,” Şentop said, adding reading the final order of the Supreme Court of Appeals on the cases about lawmakers is a constitutional obligation.
There is no established tradition of delaying the process of the dismissal until the end of legislative year, he added.
On a question about Berberoğlu’s appeal to the Constitutional Court for the revision of the court rulings, Şentop said an appeal to the top court is not a prevention for upholding a final order.