Opposition raises cause of lawmakers in prison

Opposition raises cause of lawmakers in prison

ISTANBUL - Daily News with wires
Opposition raises cause of lawmakers in prison

Main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (R) greets his supporters as he arrives at the weekly parliamentary meeting of his Republican People’s Party (CHP). DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

All three opposition parties in Turkey’s Parliament called for the release of their imprisoned lawmakers yesterday as they slammed Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for double standards over his recent remarks that those elected would never be subordinate to the will of appointed officials.

“Are the jailed deputies elected or not? Why are they locked up? The person who is primarily responsible for that is the prime minister and the second is the Parliament speaker,” main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said at the weekly parliamentary meeting of his Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Erdoğan made the much-debated remarks over the weekend in his first public reaction to the controversial probe into the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), which prompted the ruling party last week to rush through Parliament a law that provided a judicial shield to the MİT chief and four other officials against charges of collaboration with Kurdish separatists.

Kılıçdaroğlu dismissed Erdoğan’s assurances that all institutions were in harmony, charging that the MİT crisis had exposed a “disaster” within the state.

“The prime minister doesn’t trust the prosecutors and the police. A situation like this cannot be rectified with a law passed through Parliament at midnight. It is a post-modern dictatorship, in which the wishes of a single person become law. The prime minister does not hesitate tramping on any value. His only goal is to stay in power,” he said.

The co-chair of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), Gültan Kışanak, also lashed out at Erdoğan. “Do you have to be elected by the prime minister in order to be considered elected? The government cannot claim legitimacy when it keeps those elected by the people in jail while passing a law in three days to save from the prosecutor those who it has appointed,” she said.

‘Only in dictatorships’

Joining the criticism, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli described the MİT Act amendment as “the reflection of political primitiveness and tribal allegiance” and charged that “such a preposterous practice” can only be found in dictatorships.

“And you call it legal when deputies elected by the people are confined to jail and their freedom is shamelessly violated under fabricated coup allegations!” he said.

Bahçeli gave credit to police suspicions that MİT colluded with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and argued the MİT amendment was an attempt “to cover up the strong evidence” exposing those links.

A total of eight lawmakers elected from prison in last year’s elections remain behind bars on charges of involvement in anti-government coup plots or for collaborating with the PKK. Five of them were elected on a BDP-backed ticket, two are from the CHP and one is from the MHP.

In further remarks yesterday, Kılıçdaroğlu said he was “worried about the prime minister’s mental health” as he voiced indignation over Erdoğan’s weekend speech in which he insisted on raising a “devout” youth that would embrace the cause not only of its religion, language and homeland but also of “its hatred.” Erdoğan’s doctors should make a public statement on his mental health, he added.

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