Turkey’s HDP co-leader vows to resist possible arrest

Turkey’s HDP co-leader vows to resist possible arrest

Turkey’s HDP co-leader vows to resist possible arrest

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A co-leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the main target of a government-led provisional change in the constitution that would allow parliament to lift legislative immunities, has vowed to not “voluntarily” comply with any possible legal call for prosecution.

“They may lift our immunities but not a single colleague of mine will voluntarily go to testify. How they will take us then is their own business. This affair will not be so easy,” HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş said on April 19.

“You will pay the political price,” Demirtaş added, speaking at a parliamentary group meeting of his party and apparently addressing both the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the other two opposition parties that have declared support for the proposal. 

Back in March 1994, the immunities of four deputies of the now-defunct pro-Kurdish Democratic Labor Party (DEP) - a predecessor of the HDP – were lifted on charges of helping the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Previously, current HDP deputy Leyla Zana, Hatip Dicle, Selim Sadak and late Orhan Doğan had been elected for the now-dissolved Social Democratic Populist Party (SHP) before splitting off to form the DEP.

The four DEP deputies were forcefully put into police cars waiting at parliament’s gates. They were eventually sentenced to jail, where they spent nine years until the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found Turkey guilty of violating their political rights, which led to retrials.

Demirtaş called on the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader not to make a “historic mistake” by lending support to the proposal.

“You are whistling past the graveyard … But no matter what trouble they put us in, we will never resort to arms and violence,” he added.

“The vote is not a vote on the HDP’s immunity. It is a vote saying ‘yes’ to a presidential system. We say ‘no’ to both the presidential system and oppression. We are making a call on [CHP head Kemal] Kılıçdaroğlu to not push his parliamentary group into a historic mistake,” Demirtaş said.