28 November 2018:
Erdogan's office asks to strip opposition leaders, 19 MPs of immunity
The office of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday demanded from the country’s Parliament to strip the leaders of the main and Kurdish opposition parties of immunity along with 19 other lawmakers, to pave the way for potential prosecution.
The move comes only a week after the European Court of Human Rights, which Turkey is a party to, ruled that Ankara was unjustly and politically holding Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtas in detention for two years and that authorities had to release him.
It is also the latest in a far-reaching crackdown on the opposition, Kurdish movement, and civil society that has over the past two years seen the jailing of up to 150,000 people, 50,000 of them now political prisoners.
The Presidency has sent the parliament 43 files containing criminal charges against the Co-chair of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Pervin Buldan, leader of the largest opposition bloc, the Republican People's Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, and other MPs from their respective parties, the state media reported.
If approved by a majority of lawmakers, they will have to face the charges by prosecutors, and also appear in front of courts that could land them in jail—as was the case with Demirtas and a dozen other now-former lawmakers from the previous parliament.
It was not immediately clear what the accusations against them were.
However, earlier reports this month by the pro-government media wrote that charges against the opposition politicians varied from “terrorist membership, terrorist propaganda to insulting the President,” based on their speeches.
Both Buldan and Kilicdaroglu are members of the national assembly which is dominated by Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its junior far-right ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the number of whose lawmakers suffices to purge their rivals.
Among HDP MPs targeted by the latest move from Erdogan’s administration are Feleknas Uca and Ayse Acar Basaran of Batman, Dirayet Dilan Tasdemir and Berdan Ozturk of Agri, Nimetullah Erdogmus of Sanliurfa, Ayhan Bilgen of Kars, Bedia Ozgokce Ertan of Van, Imam Tascier and Garo Paylan of Diyarbakir, Mahmut Togrul of Gaziantep, and Filiz Kerestecioglu Demir of Ankara.
Those from the CHP who may lose parliamentary immunity from prosecution are Mehmet Goker of Burdur, Okan Gaytancioglu of Edirne, Mustafa Sezgin Tanrikulu, Mahmut Tanal, and Aykut Erdogdu of Istanbul, Kadim Durmaz of Tokat, Cetin Osman Budak of Antalya. Source
Prosecutors file to lift immunity from 15 opposition deputies
A prosecutor’s office in Turkey’s capital city of Ankara has filed requests to lift the parliamentary immunity of 15 opposition deputies, Turkish news site Diken said on Friday, citing a report from the Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency.
The prosecutor wishes to take press charges on 12 deputies from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) for allegedly creating propaganda for terrorists, and three from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has piled constant pressure on the HDP since it became the first pro-Kurdish party to win enough votes to break the country’s 10 per cent electoral threshold in the June 2015 elections.
Shortly after the elections, a peace process broke down between the AKP and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a terrorist-designated armed group that has fought for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since the 1980s.
The charges against the 12 HDP deputies are related to statements made criticising Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch, a military assault launched in January this year against Syrian-Kurdish groups linked to the PKK in northwest Syria. They also refer to political statements made on International Women’s Day on March 8.
Dozens of high-profile HDP politicians and activists have faced legal action since 2015 due to their alleged links to the PKK, including two of the party’s former co-chairs, Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ.
The CHP politicians have been accused of “insulting the president,” a crime with a maximum four-year prison sentence according to the Turkish constitution, which does not clearly define what constitutes an insult. Erdoğan has launched around 2,000 legal cases against Turkish citizens, including schoolchildren, for alleged insults.
The Turkish parliament decided to make it possible to lift politicians’ parliamentary immunity in a controversial vote in May 2016.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu may have come to regret backing the vote, which has seen several of his party’s deputies and prominent figures sentenced, including Istanbul deputy Enis Berberoğlu.
The HDP politicians facing the latest round of legal problems are Ayhan Bilgen, Ayşe Acar Başaran, Alican Önlü, Berdan Öztürk, Bedia Özgökçe Ertan, Feleknas Uca, Filiz Keresteci, Kemal Bülbül, Meral Danış Beştaş, İmam Taşçıer, Nimetullah Erdoğmuş and Pervin Buldan.
On the CHP side, Çetin Osman Budak, Erdin Bircan and Aykut Erdoğdu face charges. Source
Bilgen stated, "The expectation of becoming a minister has driven him crazy. The President [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] had better announce the new cabinet as soon as possible."
"The minister continues to criminalize"
Here are some of the highlights from the statement of Bilgen:
"We know that with the referendum on April 16, we have moved into a party state. But, the messages which have been given over the last week show that we have moved into not only a party state, but into a mafia state as well. "A minister of interior does not have the right to judge whether our party is a legal political party or to give messages about it.
"The Minister of Interior continues to criminalize by saying, 'There is no such a political party called the HDP". The Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu previously said, "There is no such a political party called the HDP. There is an organization called the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party)'". (AS/SD)
Upon opposition by Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, warrant was issued to forcibly take HDP Adana MP Meral Danış Beştaş and HDP Party Spokesperson Ayhan Bilgen for arrest. On January 28 Meral Danış Beştaş and on January 29 Ayhan Bilgen were taken into custody and later released on probation on the same day. Meral Danış Beştaş was arrested on January 30. With Bilgen's arrest, 12 HDP MPs remain behind bars.
Court has ruled that the detention of HDP Kars MP Ayhan Bilgen who is facing up to 25.5 years in prison and has been waiting for his first hearing in detention on remand for seven months continue.
Diyarbakır 5th Heavy Criminal Court ruled that his detention on remand continue. Bilgen who had been arrested on January 31 is being kept in Silivri Prison since February 2. He is being charged with "being a member of an illegal organization", "inciting to committing crimes" and "inciting people to unlawful assembly and demonstration" and facing from 11 years to 25.5 years in prison.