Speaker declares Zana’s oath null and void due to ‘Turkish nation’ rewording

Speaker declares Zana’s oath null and void due to ‘Turkish nation’ rewording

Speaker declares Zana’s oath null and void due to ‘Turkish nation’ rewording

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Speaker of the Turkish parliament has declared an oath taken by a leading Kurdish politician null and void due to the latter’s rewording of the oath.

“I swear upon my honor and integrity, before the great Turkish nation, to safeguard the existence and independence of the state, the indivisible integrity of the country and the nation, and the absolute sovereignty of the nation; to remain loyal to the supremacy of law, to the democratic and secular republic, and to Atatürk’s principles and reforms; not to deviate from the ideal according to which everyone is entitled to enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms under the notion of peace and prosperity in society, national solidarity and justice, and loyalty to the Constitution,” says the oath.

However, Leyla Zana, Ağrı, deputy of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), used the phrase “the great Turkey nation” instead of “the great Turkish nation.”

Deniz Baykal, Antalya deputy of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), running the first session of the newly elected parliament at the oath-taking ceremony on Nov. 17, declared the oath by Zana null and void, while inviting her to once more take the oath. However, Zana had already left the assembly hall. It was not yet clear whether Zana would repeat the oath during the session that was expected to last until the early morning of Nov. 18 or during an upcoming session in the coming days. 

Zana became a symbol of free speech across the world after serving 10 years in prison for speaking Kurdish while taking her parliamentary oath in 1991. She was ultimately released in 2004 and once again became an MP after the June 2011 elections, although a ban remained in place preventing her from joining the country’s then-main Kurdish party, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).

At the Nov. 17 session, Zana greeted the hall saying “Biji Aşiti,” meaning “Long leave peace” in Kurdish before taking the oath.