HDP co-chair Yüksekdağ loses seat in parliament 

HDP co-chair Yüksekdağ loses seat in parliament 

HDP co-chair Yüksekdağ loses seat in parliament Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chair Figen Yüksekdağ, who has been in jail for three months on terror charges, has lost her parliamentary status for a prison sentence she received in a previous case. 

Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Ayşenur Bahçekapılı read out a Prime Ministry motion at the start of the parliamentary session on Feb. 21, regarding Yüksekdağ’s sentencing on “terror propaganda” on Nov. 27, 2013, which was approved by the Supreme Court of Appeals on Sept. 22, 2016.

According to the constitution, the loss of the parliamentary seat “through a final judicial sentence or deprivation of legal capacity, shall take effect after the final court decision in the matter has been communicated to the plenary” of the parliament, without the necessity for a vote.

Yüksekdağ, who was also the party’s lawmaker from the eastern province of Van, was arrested on Nov. 4, 2016, over her alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). She currently faces over 80 years in prison.

Ahmet Yıldırım, HDP’s deputy parliamentary group leader, said the decision was “void.”

“The prosecutors, judges of the said sentencing are currently in prison. The ruling of a power hiding behind terrorists cannot be the ruling of the judiciary,” Yıldırım said.

Yüksekdağ’s bio on the Turkish Parliament’s website was also immediately removed after the decision, with her name transferred to the list of those whose deputyship has ended.

Meanwhile Selahattin Demirtaş, HDP’s other co-chair who is also under arrest, was sentenced on Feb. 231 to five months in prison on charges of “denigrating the Turkish nation, the Turkish Republic and the institutions of the state.”

Also on Feb. 21, a HDP lawmaker from the southeastern province of Diyarbakır and the party’s group deputy chair, İdris Baluken, was arrested again in Ankara. Baluken was released on Jan. 30 after being arrested on Nov. 4, 2016. An arrest warrant was later issued for him.

The HDP recently applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding the continued arrest of its co-leaders. 

At the moment, a total of 11 HDP lawmakers, including co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, remain under arrest, facing hundreds of years in jail over alleged links to the PKK.

An HDP lawmaker from Ankara, Sırrı Süreyya Önder, earlier called for the release of the party’s co-chairs and lawmakers, while criticizing the Constitutional Court.

“There is an institution called the Constitutional Court. The people’s will in terms of representation has been held hostage for more than a hundred days. What does the Constitutional Court see as crucial? What should happen so that the court takes action on the issue?” Önder said at a parliamentary group meeting of his party on Feb. 21, adding that the lawmakers in prisons were “being kept near the gangs that threaten them.”

“Our elected friends in the parliament are being kept near the gangs that threaten them and who were involved in crimes. Is the Constitutional Court waiting for a threat to their lives to take place? Are they waiting for that actual situation?” he also said. 

“What did we do? We carried out our supervisory activities with criticism as well as our legislative duties. The prosecutor’s office creates a feeling that there is a hierarchy by subjecting the legislative to the judiciary. They act as if they can try our legislative and supervision duties,” he said. 

During his speech, Önder said there was no “inciting violence, racism or hate crime” in the cases that were filed against them. 

“We pointed to the events that would happen today with the representation you gave us. What we said earlier took place today. Now, they are sending us to courts, saying ‘Why did you said that?’” he added.

“You are leaning toward the mountains of hubris. If you have courage, then the place for it is an independent rostrum. Let’s come to terms in politics. If justice goes away, then everything else does, too. A country may lose everything, but you can’t replace the lives lost and justice,” he also said. 

Also speaking at the party’s parliamentary group meeting, the ousted mayor of the southeastern province of Mardin, Ahmet Türk, said “the politics of violence and denial should be abandoned as soon as possible.”

“There is no solution other than dialogue and peace. If we are aiming for a democratic future, then let’s shout loudly for peace and struggle for it,” Türk said.