Ahmet Yıldırım, deputy from the pro-Kurdish Democratic Peoples’ Party (HDP), will be stripped of his parliamentary status after his conviction on charges of insulting Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Thousands of people in Turkey face charges of insulting Erdoğan; however, this will be the first time that a deputy loses his parliamentary status due to the insult charges.
Yıldırım, the HDP’s Deputy Group Chair at the Turkish Parliament, had called Erdoğan “the palace’s shoddy emperor” during a September 2015 speech he gave in protest of the Turkish government forces’ human rights violations at urban centers in clashes with PKK militants.
Two years later, a court in the Kurdish city of Muş trying the deputy handed down the prison sentence for 14 months, depriving him from certain political, civic, custodial rights, including his right to be elected to Parliament, to get appointed to any state, provincial, municipal or neighborhood position. Yıldırım also could not exercise his right to join a political party, charitable organization, NGO, syndicate, or corporation according to the 53rd article of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).
The court also ruled to deprive the deputy of certain rights that include his membership in Parliament on the grounds that he committed the insult crime deliberately. If Yıldırım’s parliamentary status is dropped for insulting Erdoğan, it is feared that many other opposition deputies who face similar charges will also lose their parliamentary status.
Before Yıldırım, veteran Kurdish politician and Sakharov Laureate Leyla Zana was ousted last month from the Turkish Parliament for the second time in her political life. The number of HDP deputies who have been stripped of their parliamentary duties has thus risen to 8. Among the HDP deputies kicked out are the party’s former Co-leader Figen Yüksekdağ, Nursel Aydoğan, Tuğba Hezer, Faysal Sarıyıldız, Ferhat Encü and Besime Konca.
According to the Turkish constitution, the crime of terror propaganda poses an obstacle for being deputy. Deputies can lose their seats if they face sentences of more than one year in jail and if their cases are then referred to the parliament by the Justice Ministry; the court decision must also be read out in the parliament before any seat gets revoked.
Turkey has stepped up its crackdown on Kurdish politicians in recent months. Trustees have been appointed to dozens of municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast, while hundreds of local Kurdish politicians have been arrested on terror charges. There are currently 11 HDP deputies behind bars. The developments have attracted widespread criticism from the region and Western countries. (SCF with turkishminute.com)