Opposition slams government over HDP co-leader’s loss of seat

Opposition slams government over HDP co-leader’s loss of seat

Opposition slams government over HDP co-leader’s loss of seat

AP photo

The opposition has slammed the ruling party over the termination of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ’s parliamentary status, even as the prime minister hinted at further dismissals. 

“It might work for you for today. You may get political benefit from it. But you are bringing down all conventions, traditions and democracy to the ground,” Sezgin Tanrıkulu, a main opposition Republican People’s Party Istanbul lawmaker, said Feb. 21. 

“I hope this will not pave the way for similar practices in the future,” he said. 

His comments came after Yüksekdağ, who has been in jail for three months on terror-related charges, was stripped of her seat in parliament for a prison sentence she received regarding terror propaganda that was made on Nov. 27, 2013, and approved by the Supreme Court on Sept. 22, 2016. 

Her parliamentary status was dismissed after a Prime Ministry motion regarding Yüksekdağ’s sentencing was read out loud by the parliamentary speaker. The motion had been in the hand of parliament for over five months. 

According to the constitution, the loss of the parliamentary seat “through a final judicial sentence or deprivation of legal capacity, shall take effect after the final court decision in the matter has been communicated to the plenary” of the parliament, without the necessity for a vote.

Tanrıkulu slammed Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Ayşenur Bahçekapılı for reading out the ministry’s motion, saying that in previous cases, speakers have used their initiative to hold the motion until the end of the term as a matter of parliamentary tradition for immunity. 

“I wish you did not read that out. As Cemil Çiçek [the former spokesperson] did for six months resisting the stripping of lawmakers’ parliamentary membership. Why did he do that? For peace!” he said. 

CHP Deputy Group Spokesperson Engin Altay also criticized the implementation of the parliamentary procedure. 

“There is an unethical picture here,” Altay said in parliament on Feb. 21.  

“You are presenting a document to the information of the General Assembly here under the 84th Article of the Constitution concerning the loss of the parliamentary membership of the leader of a political party but that political party has a group here; these friends need to be notified beforehand,” he said. 

‘Against the constitution’

HDP Mardin MP and law professor Mithat Sancar said the procedure was against the constitution. 

He said Yüksekdağ’s conviction for “terror propaganda” was not within the scope of the related constitutional framework since it was not included in the list of crimes that obstruct one’s eligibility to be a deputy and that the sentence had to last for more than a year to result in an MP being stripped of his or her membership. 

“Even the reading of this motion in the General Assembly violates the constitution,” Sancar said. 

Yıldırım signals further dismissals

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım answered question concerning Yüksekdağ’s situation, hinting at similar sanctions against other HDP lawmakers. 

“Regardless of who it is, whenever someone is given a definite penalty, their situation will be read out in parliament. This is what will happen from now on,” Yıldırım said Feb. 22. 

Yüksekdağ, who was a lawmaker from the eastern province of Van, was arrested on Nov. 4, 2016, over her alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). She currently faces over 80 years in prison.

38 years for HDP lawmaker Tan

Meanwhile, the Diyarbakir Chief Prosecutor’s Office has demanded up to 38.5 years in prison for HDP Diyarbakır lawmaker Altan Tan, who was taken into custody as part of a terrorism-related investigation.