HDP boycotts Turkish parliament’s opening, goes to Edirne

HDP boycotts Turkish parliament’s opening, goes to Edirne

HDP boycotts Turkish parliament’s opening, goes to Edirne

The parliamentary group of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) boycotted the Turkish parliament’s new legislative year and went to the western province of Edirne, where its co-chair is kept in jail, on Oct. 1.

HDP spokesperson Osman Baydemir previously announced the party’s decision at a news conference at the party’s headquarters in Ankara on Sept. 28, saying that his party’s parliamentary group would stand in front of the prison in Edirne where the party’s co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş remains under arrest.

But the Edirne Governor’s Office on Sept. 29 imposed a ban on assembly and demonstrations around Edirne Prison, citing “public order and security.”

“All types of assemblies, demonstration marches, protests, sit-ins, press releases, rallies, petition campaigns, distributing booklets and similar activities are banned,” the governor’s office said, receiving criticism from the HDP.

Shortly after the ban was announced, Baydemir said no changes were made to their plans on visiting Edirne, adding that “the ceremony in parliament is a showpiece.”

“We think it’s a theatre. Our lawmakers are in jail,” he said on Sept. 30, and on Oct. 1, the parliamentary group of the HDP went to Edirne.

HDP deputies have been facing prosecution under the country’s anti-terrorism law after their parliamentary immunities were lifted in March 2016.

In addition to Demirtaş, the party’s former co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ and several lawmakers remain under arrest over their suspected links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

HDP’s decision not to attend the opening met harsh criticism from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“You know they belong to Kandil,” Erdoğan said on Oct. 1, referring to the Kandil Mountains in northern Iraq, where the PKK headquarters are based.

The HDP’s response came minutes after Erdoğan’s remarks.

“The AKP chair said our place is Kandil. He wants to get rid of all opposition. However, we won’t let his dreams come true as those leading the struggle for democracy,” HDP co-chair Serpil Kemalbay said in Edirne.

Meanwhile, a search was carried out in Demirtaş’s cell after tweets started to be shared from his official Twitter account recently.

Demirtaş on Sept. 16 shared a series of tweets via his lawyers and party managers, prompting surprise among many of his followers.

The jailed co-chair on Sept. 30 shared another series of tweets, saying that he “doesn’t send these tweets from the prison.”

“Naturally, no tweets could be found in the room. There was only a water-boiler for making tea and it was decided that no tweets can be sent from that,” Demirtaş tweeted.