Prosecutor asks to scrap BDP deputies immunity

Prosecutor asks to scrap BDP deputies immunity

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Prosecutor asks to scrap BDP deputies immunity

Leading Kurdish MPs risk to face a probe if their immunity is being scrapped. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Specially authorized prosecutors in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır are demanding the revocation of eight lawmakers’ parliamentary immunity due to their alleged links to an outlawed group.

The Diyarbakır Public Prosecutor’s Office sent an official notice to the Justice Ministry yesterday demanding the prosecution of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-leaders Selahattin Demirtaş and Gültan Kışanak, BDP deputies Emine Ayna, Nursel Aydoğan, Sebahat Tuncel and Ayla Akat Ata, as well as independent deputies Ahmet Türk and Aysel Tuğluk.

The deputies are accused of being members of the outlawed Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). In the 30-page notice, the prosecutors claimed that the lawmakers “have contacts with terror organization members working under the KCK.”

The ministry will send the notices to the Parliament Speaker’s Office, and the legislature will decide whether to revoke the lawmakers’ immunity.

The move prompted a fierce reaction from the BDP. Deputy parliamentary group leader, Hasip Kaplan, told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday that the specially-authorized prosecutors and courts “have orders from the government to act against us.”

“Parliament has so far received more than 600 demands for the removal of our immunity. They are requesting a total of more than a century of jail time,” Kaplan said. “Regular party decisions are being considered evidence by the prosecutors. All of our political speeches are met with prosecutor’s notices, demonstrating the government’s mentality against democracy, freedom of speech and [freedom in] politics. This is a dangerous way to go.”

Sezgin Tanrıkulu, deputy chair of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), also denounced the prosecutors’ move, describing it as “an unlawful action peculiar to special-authority courts.”

“Attempting to try a political party leader and seven lawmakers for being members of an illegal organization is an unlawful action peculiar to special-authority courts. Specially authorized prosecutors are claiming the right to determine the limits of legislative activity,” Tanrıkulu said.

Recalling an earlier attempt by prosecutors to initiate a lawsuit against CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, when he likened the Silivri prison to a “concentration camp,” Tanrıkulu said: “Such moves show that legislative activities are under the discretion of prosecutors. Legislative activity cannot be conducted under judicial pressure.”

The Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) deputy leader Mehmet Şandır, however, said the notices had no “special meaning.”

“There is an undeniable relationship between the KCK-PKK and the BDP. The KCK can be considered an institution above the PKK and the BDP; the judiciary is just doing its job,” Şandır said.