The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on Wednesday announced that its deputies would not participate in sessions of the Turkish Parliament for the next two days to protest the removal of the parliamentary status of HDP deputies Ahmet Yıldırım and İbrahim Ayhan.
“This is not an ordinary issue. Our colleagues have decided not to participate in the general assembly sessions of Parliament for two days,” said HDP spokesperson Ayhan Bilgen during a press conference at party headquarters in Ankara.
Bilgen said the Turkish Parliament on Tuesday stripped Yıldırım of his parliamentary status for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and removed Ayhan’s status for messages posted on social media.
Yıldırım was given 14 months in jail last year by the Muş 2nd Penal Court of First Instance for insulting President Erdoğan in a speech in which he referred to the president as a “hack sultan.”
HDP deputies Tuğba Hezer Öztürk, Leyla Zana, Nursel Aydoğan Faysal Sarıyıldız, Ferhat Encü, Besime Konca and Figen Yüksekdağ were previously stripped of their parliamentary status.
The number of HDP deputies in Parliament has dropped to 50 from the 59 the party won in the Nov. 1, 2015 general election.
Nine HDP deputies are currently in prison: Selahattin Demirtaş, Figen Yüksekdağ, Selma Irmak, Abdullah Zeydan, Gülser Yıldırım, Çağlar Demirel, Ferhat Encü, İdris Baluken and Burcu Çelik Özkan.
The HDP is now represented by only 43 deputies in Parliament, with some deputies retaining their parliamentary status while in pretrial detention, according to Cumhuriyet.