Turkey’s presidency to forward to parliament proceedings against opposition MP

CHP deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu

The Turkish presidency is expected to forward to parliament a summary of proceedings against human rights defender and opposition deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu, who is accused of insulting the military, for a final decision on whether or not to remove the MP’s parliamentary immunity, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported on Monday.

Ankara prosecutors are seeking to investigate Tanrıkulu over his criticism of the Turkish military. They filed the proceedings after obtaining the Justice Ministry’s permission to investigate.

In the event of losing his parliamentary immunity, the lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) may face imprisonment on criminal charges of fomenting hatred among the public and denigrating the state’s armed forces.

During a program on TV1000 on Sept. 8, Tanrıkulu criticized the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) due to its alleged involvement in a series of controversial actions and not taking any responsibility for their consequences.

“Not everything the TSK does is immune to criticism. We are members of parliament, we question these matters,” Tanrıkulu said, referring to the Sept. 12, 1980 coup, an attempted coup on July 15, 2016, politically motivated and unsolved murders in the 1980s and 1990s and the Roboski massacre, when 34 Kurdish civilians were bombed by Turkish military jets after they were mistaken for militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) near the Turkish-Iraqi border in 2011.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

Tanrıkulu attracted harsh criticism from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who said the lawmaker’s “cowardly insults and allegations” against the TSK would not go unpunished, while the Defense Ministry strongly denied the lawmaker’s allegations, saying they were “entirely baseless and devoid of truth.”

Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç also hinted last week that Tanrıkulu’s parliamentary immunity could be lifted.

The prosecution of members of Parliament has been possible since the CHP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) lent support to a 2016 proposal submitted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on removing deputies’ immunity from prosecution. The immunity of all deputies who faced prosecution was lifted in May 2016.

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