Justice Ministry takes step for lifting immunity of HDP deputies

Justice Ministry takes step for lifting immunity of HDP deputies

Justice Ministry takes step for lifting immunity of HDP deputies

DHA photo

Turkey’s Justice Ministry has submitted a request that parliament lift the immunities of the co-leaders of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in a move that is likely to presage further tension in an ongoing political row after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan repeatedly called for Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ to face trial.

The Diyarbakır Chief Prosecutor’s Office already drafted summaries of proceedings for HDP co-chairs Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ along with HDP deputies Selma Irmak, Sırrı Süreyya Önder and Ertuğrul Kürkçü for their autonomy remarks at a meeting Diyarbakır in late December 2015 and sent them to the Justice Ministry. The ministry later sent them to the Prime Ministry, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on March 4. 
“Legislative immunity is not for having lawmakers working like members of terrorist organizations. Legislative immunity is not granted as armor for lawmakers enabling them to commit crimes,” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said.
The Diyarbakır prosecutor launched a probe into the HDP deputies, with a request to lift the deputies’ immunity so they could be tried for “inciting hatred” and “being a member of terrorist organization.”

The probes against the five lawmakers were launched over “crimes against the constitutional order” after they attended a meeting of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) in Diyarbakır between Dec. 26 and 27, 2015.

The establishment of “democratic autonomous regions” was presented as a solution to the Kurdish problem during the meetings in Diyarbakır.

The attendees also asked for self-governance and embraced legitimate insurgency in a number of southeastern districts, while also urging the people of Turkey to support their cause.

The probe was opened on the grounds of “making terrorism propaganda,” “inciting a crime” and “encouraging sedition,” in addition to violating Article 302 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) by “disrupting the unity and territorial integrity of the state.”

Charging the HDP with being an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Erdoğan recently increased the tone and frequency of his calls particularly after an HDP deputy’s visit of condolence to the family of a suicide bomber who killed 29 people in Ankara on Feb. 17.

Predominantly Kurdish-populated southeastern Anatolia has been hit by the worst violence since the 1990s as violence between the Turkish security forces and militants of the PKK reignited last summer, shattering a fragile peace process after a two-and-a-half-year period of effective non-conflict. The reignited conflict also triggered nationalist calls to prosecute politicians accused of being close to the PKK, with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) having asked the parliament on March 3 to discuss requests to lift the immunity of deputies as part of the fight against terrorism. 

Demirtaş alone is the subject to some 60 dossiers in parliament calling for the lifting of his immunity, including some related to his calls for street protests, but as yet there have been no moves in the assembly to open the way for his prosecution.