Turkey’s Parliament bans Kurdish deputy from two sessions for saying ‘Kurdistan’

Turkey’s Parliament has banned pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Osman Baydemir from two parliamentary sessions after he said “Kurdistan” in his speech in during a session over 2018 budget.

Baydemir has criticized oppression by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government under the rule of Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan against Kurds and democratic segments of the society and said that the 2018 budget was a budget for war.

In a part of his speech, Baydemir said “Kurdistan.” After his use of the word the deputies from the ruling Justice and Development Party protested him. After the incident, Baydemir was banned from two parliamentary sessions by the Parliament’s deputy spokesperson. Therefore, other HDP deputies have also left the general assembly after the parliament’s decision and decided not to participate in today’s parliamentary sessions. The punishment was the first execution of a ban on lawmakers’ use of the word “Kurdistan”

According to a report by online news portal Kurdistan24, Osman Baydemir has questioned if the government intended to allocate an amount of the budget for preservation, use, and improvement of Kurdish and minority languages. “Twenty-five million Kurds live in this country. Saying ‘there is a [state-owned] Kurdish TV channel, what else do you want?’ is an ingrained version of assimilation,” Baydemir said.

“As the child of the Kurdish people, as a representative from Kurdistan, I have a mission. I want this roof to be shared by the Turks and Kurds. If you [continue to] exclude the Kurds, if you count them non-existent, if you put them in prisons, the whole 80 million [population of Turkey] will lose,” he said.

After finishing his televised speech, Parliament’s Deputy Speaker Ayşenur Bahçekapılı of the AKP insistently asked Baydemir where Kurdistan was.

A short but heated argument followed between other HDP and AKP members.

“I am asking you a question, Mr. Baydemir. Could you please answer?” Bahçekapılı continued.

Baydemir put his palm on his chest and said Kurdistan was there, in a video uploaded by HDP to social media.

“This, this very place is Kurdistan, Mrs. Speaker. Kurdistan is right here,” he said, gesturing toward his heart.

“You are not a lawmaker for Kurdistan. You are a lawmaker for Şanlıurfa,” she responded.

On social media, Baydemir’s gesture created a flow of support and enthusiasm for his stance.

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 as well as 9 HDP deputies including the party’s co-chairs are behind bars on terror charges.

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