Motion to lift HDP deputies’ immunity in Turkish parliament

Motion to lift HDP deputies’ immunity in Turkish parliament

Motion to lift HDP deputies’ immunity in Turkish parliament

Co-leaders of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş (R) and Figen Yüksekdağ (C) wave as they attend the second general assembly of the HDP at Ahmet Taner Kışlalı Sports Hall in Ankara on January 24, 2016. AFP Photo

A summary of proceedings asking for the removal of the parliamentary immunities of five Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputies, including co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, has been submitted to the parliament speaker, as the Turkish government pushes ahead with the process.

“I will talk about the issue with the parliament speaker,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told reporters on March 9, adding that “everyone has the right to express ideas at the parliament rostrum” but this should not be “abused to justify terrorist acts.” 

Demirtaş, for his part, insisted that “the sole ‘organization’ we are a member of is the HDP.” 

The demand, which was prepared by a prosecutor in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır and submitted to the Justice Ministry on Feb. 4, accuses the deputies of “provoking the people” and “being a member of an armed organization,” referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). 

The ministry then sent the demand to the Prime Ministry, Anadolu Agency reported on March 4. 

Probes against the lawmakers were launched over crimes against the constitutional order after they attended a meeting of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) in the southeastern province of 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.

“We will evaluate all these [the summaries of proceedings] with our parliament speaker and, if need be, with representatives from other political parties, after the budget [discussions],” Prime Minister Davutoğlu said in a televised interview on March 5. 

He added that requesting parliament to lift deputy immunities may “seem like a new practice,” but it is in fact “routine.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has also urged parliament and the judiciary to take steps to lift the immunities of HDP deputies. 

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials have repeatedly said they are against closures of parties but they have not ruled out judicial acts against individual lawmakers. 

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

The deputies who face losing their immunities include Sırrı Süreyya Önder, who was an active member of a HDP group that was involved in talks with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan during the now-failed “peace process.” 

The other two deputies are Ertuğrul Kürkçü from İzmir and Selma Irmak from Hakkari. 

Separately, a Turkish prosecutor filed a summary of proceeding at the end of last month against main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğluon charges of “insulting the president” in public speeches and social media messages. The claim particularly cited Kılıçdaroğlu’s repeated “sham dictator” comments, a phrase he commonly uses to refer to President Erdoğan.