Turkish opposition gives cold shoulder to proceedings against pro-Kurdish MPs

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Turkey’s opposition leaders have reacted negatively to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), with regard to 33 summaries of proceedings sent to parliament last week to remove the immunity of at least nine deputies from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Both the AKP and MHP accuse the HDP, Turkey’s second-biggest opposition party, of links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) — an armed group listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU — although the HDP denies any such ties.

A total of 33 summaries of proceedings were sent to parliament on Feb. 23 in a bid to remove the immunity from prosecution of at least nine HDP deputies who are accused of “instigating” street protests in Turkey’s Southeast in 2014 that claimed the lives of 37 people.

The proceedings filed by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office target HDP Co-chair Pervin Buldan, HDP group deputy chairs Meral Danış Beştaş and Saruhan Oluç, and lawmakers Garo Paylan, Hüda Kaya, Sezai Temelli, Pero Dündar, Fatma Kurtulan and Serpil Kemalbay.

Gelecek Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu and Felicity Party leader Temel Karamollaoğlu on Thursday said in a joint press statement following a meeting that the legal proceedings targeting HDP lawmakers are “an attempt at political engineering.”

“This is an attempt to redesign Turkish politics rather than an effort to fight terrorism. Therefore, our stance is obvious. Nobody can try to redesign politics like this, and we object to it,” Davutoğlu said.

Nationalist opposition İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener on Wednesday said during her party’s group meeting that they won’t “blindly vote for the summaries of proceedings that were brought [to parliament] so that the problems of the nation aren’t discussed.”

“We were talking about legal proceedings for nine MPs, but the prosecutors sent a total of 33. The İYİ Party will thoroughly read those summaries of proceedings and then will do whatever is necessary,” Akşener underlined.

“If we want to strip some lawmakers of their parliamentary immunity, we must first ensure judicial independence. Lifting immunity isn’t a way to redesign politics according to one’s desires,” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said on Tuesday during his party’s group meeting.

The chief prosecutor’s office of Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals launched a probe into the HDP earlier this week, asking for documents from the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office related to ongoing investigations into HDP lawmakers and officials.

If the office decides after the investigation that the HDP is a “focal point for terrorism against the indivisible integrity of the state,” like the previous pro-Kurdish parties that were banned, then the Constitutional Court will issue a verdict on whether the close the party or not.

The AKP government’s crackdown on the HDP culminated in the aftermath of a failed coup in 2016, when Ankara launched a massive crackdown on its opponents under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.

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