HDP says lifting lawmakers’ immunities will bring more violence

HDP says lifting lawmakers’ immunities will bring more violence

ANKARA - Reuters
HDP says lifting lawmakers’ immunities will bring more violence


A bill proposed by Turkey’s ruling party that would strip some parliamentarians of their immunity from prosecution is likely to create more violence and stifle democratic politics, the co-chair of the Kurdish-issue-focused opposition party has said.

A parliamentary committee this week approved a bill amid fistfights that strips immunity from deputies who have had legal cases opened against them, paving the way for legislation the HDP says is designed to target its members and suppress dissent. The parliament general assembly will vote on the bill on May 16. 

“Kicking us all out of the parliament will only invite more violence across the country,” Demirtaş said in an interview late May 3. “There is already too much violence in the country. Blocking the parliament and ousting the HDP may get things out of hand, that’s what we’re concerned about.”

Turkish lawmakers are immune from prosecution but the authorities can file “dossiers” against them, leading to a legal process once they leave parliament. As many as 50 of the HDP’s 59 sitting parliamentarians have had dossiers filed against them, some for charges related to spreading terror propaganda.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who founded the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), has called for the prosecution of HDP members, accusing them of being an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 

Erdoğan has ruled out any return to last year’s collapsed negotiations between the PKK and the state. 
“Erdoğan is the biggest obstacle for the peace process to continue. But he will not rule this country forever. I am absolutely sure the process will be revived,” Demirtaş said.

Demirtaş said he saw the immunity bill as an attempt by Erdoğan to bolster support in parliament for the strong executive presidency he has long sought. 

“Erdoğan’s agenda used to be more secret. Now it’s all out in the open, he’s in a position to do all kinds of madness.”

But he said the HDP’s voter base would still have options even if the HDP lawmakers were ousted.

“It’s a perfectly legitimate and democratic right for the people to determine their own futures and form their own parliaments,” he said, without elaborating.