Kılıçdaroğlu: HDP deputies cannot refuse to testify to prosecutor

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Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu

Fine-tuning his initial remarks on Kurdish deputies who were recently put under arrest, underlining that those who arrive in Parliament via elections should leave office only by way of elections, Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said on Tuesday that elected deputies cannot refuse to testify to a prosecutor, in reference to the reason cited for the arrests.

Speaking to fellow party members in Parliament, Kılıçdaroğlu said that ¨no elected deputy can claim to be above the law and say ‘I will not testify to the prosecutor,’ in apparent criticism of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputies who were arrested for refusing to testify in a terrorism investigation after their parliamentary immunity was lifted.

The CHP had supported the government’s proposal to partially remove the immunity from prosecution of deputies after the Nov. 1, 2015 elections. In response to criticism for lending support to the government to revoke immunity, Kılıçdaroğlu defended his party, saying that their program promises to retain immunity only for freedom of expression in Parliament for elected deputies.

¨You were supposed to testify and submit your defense; nobody is privileged,” Kılıçdaroğlu went on to say, adding that he is also a defendant in many legal cases and must appear in court to defend himself. However, he also added that as the CHP, they do not find the arrest of deputies without conviction by a court of law to be just.

Who sent them to talk to Öcalan?

Slamming the government for an inconsistent attitude when it comes to the arrested HDP deputies, who are accused of links to terrorism, Kılıçdaroğlu brought to mind the visits of HDP deputies to İmralı Island, where the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Abdullah Öcalan is imprisoned.

“Did they not go to İmralı under the permission and supervision of the government?” Kılıçdaroğlu asked, highlighting the contradiction in the government’s policy when it comes to the Kurdish issue.

The CHP released a declaration on Monday in which it criticized last week’s operation against the pro-Kurdish HDP, saying that the arrest of HDP deputies contravenes the Constitution.

The CHP issued the declaration following a Party Council meeting on Sunday that convened to discuss the latest developments in the country which resulted in the arrest of nine Cumhuriyet daily journalists and nine HDP deputies including the party’s co-chairs last week.

In the declaration, the CHP accused the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of serving terrorism by arresting deputies.

“The arrest of deputies without due process is against the Constitution and rulings of the Constitutional Court. These unlawful practices should come to an end,” said the declaration.

Turkish courts on Friday arrested nine HDP deputies including the party’s Co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, who were detained in the early hours of Friday following police raids on their homes. The HDP deputies were arrested after they refused to testify about alleged crimes linked to “terrorist propaganda.”

Kılıçdaroğlu calls on Belgian government

Moreover, at Tuesday’s party meeting, Kılıçdaroğlu also criticized Belgium for a court decision that does not recognize the PKK as a terrorist organization, but an armed organization. “I would like to address the Belgian government from here. What would your verdict be if 10 people were killed, let alone 30,000?” Kılıçdaroğlu asked.

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