HDP lawmakers under investigation over Afrin operation comments

HDP lawmakers under investigation over Afrin operation comments

HDP lawmakers under investigation over Afrin operation comments

The Ankara Prosecutor’s Office has launched criminal investigations into Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Pervin Buldan and HDP deputy Sırrı Süreyya Öncer over their criticism of Turkey’s ongoing military operation in Syria’s Afrin during the party’s annual convention on Feb. 11.

“An investigation has been initiated into lawmakers Pervin Buldan and Sırrı Süreyya Önder on accusations of promoting a terrorist organization [the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party], inciting the public to hatred and animosity, and praising crime and criminals,” a statement from the Ankara Prosecutor’s Office read on Feb. 12.

The investigation came a day after the HDP convened its third regular congress in Ankara, at which Buldan was elected as the new co-leader. In speeches at the congress, Buldan and Önder had criticized Turkey’s ongoing “Operation Olive Branch” into the northern Syrian district of Afrin.

The prosecutor stated that the investigation was initiated “because of statements that amount to praising the leader of a terror organization and promote [the PKK], working to depict Operation Olive Branch, which has been carried out legitimately within the boundaries of international law, as an operation carried out against the Kurdish population.”

PM praises prosecutor

Speaking to reporters on Feb. 12, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said the prosecutor’s office has “done what was necessary.”

“Before anything else, a political party active in Turkey should announce publicly that it has cut its ties with terror organizations. That is what we expect,” Yıldırım said, accusing the HDP of “losing its legitimacy.”

“No one has the luxury of committing a crime. If there is a crime, justice will be applied,” he added.

The investigations come after Ferhat Encü on Feb. 7 became the latest HDP deputy to be formally stripped of his MP status, after he was convicted of terror charges. Seven HDPs have been stripped of their deputy status since a legal change removing parliamentary immunity was passed in 2016.

Separate probe into Buldan on terror charges

Meanwhile, the Ankara Prosecutor’s Office has also prepared separate indictment for Buldan on accusations of being a “member of an armed terror organization” over a number of speeches she delivered between 2008 and 2015.