Turkey’s pro-Kurdish HDP’s two deputies face removal of parliamentary status

Pro-Kurdish HDP deputies Faysal Sarıyıldız (L) and Tuğba Hezer Öztürk.

Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputies Faysal Sarıyıldız and Tuğba Hezer Öztürk have been referred to a parliamentary joint commission for removal of their parliamentary status, the diken news website reported on Wednesday.

A sub-commission was set up to evaluate Sarıyıldız and Öztürk’s status due to extended absences from Parliament.

On May 9, the Turkish Parliament stripped jailed HDP Diyarbakır deputy Nursel Aydoğan of her parliamentary status after a sentence of 56 months, seven days was upheld by a regional court in Gaziantep.

In February, the parliamentary status of jailed HDP co-chairperson Figen Yüksekdağ was also removed after Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals upheld a jail sentence handed down to her in 2013.


HDP deputy Burcu Çelik.

Meanwhile, Burcu Çelik, a deputy from the HDP who has been behind bars since April 19, has applied to the administration of Sincan Prison in Ankara to keep her 3-year-old daughter with her in prison, Turkish media reports said on Wednesday.

Çelik’s daughter Asmin Mira has reportedly been overwhelmed by the absence of her mother and the lack of opportunity to hug and kiss her during closed prison visits when visitors are separated by glass and cannot make physical contact.

HDP deputy group chairman Filiz Kerestecioğlu raised the situation of Çelik’s daughter during a speech at the party’s parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday.

“The three-year-old daughter of our Muş deputy will go to prison. Today, there are 560 children incarcerated with their mothers in prisons. This figure will rise to 561 in a few days because Muş deputy Burcu Çelik has applied to the prison administration to keep her daughter with her in prison,” said Kerestecioğlu.

It was reported on Wednesday that the Justice Ministry has accepted Çelik’s request to be reunited with her 3-year-old daughter in prison.

HDP group deputy chair Ahmet Yıldırım said they had hoped the jailed lawmakers would be released soon. “We were expecting our lawmaker friends to be released from prison; we do not want a child to experience prison. But she wants to be with her daughter because she doesn’t expect to be released,” he said.

Çelik’s daughter has been living with her grandmother in Ankara. Çelik had said her daughter was crying all the time because she missed her mother.

According to Turkey’s Justice Ministry, a total of 560 children under the age of 6 are staying in Turkish prisons along with their mothers. Responding to a parliamentary question from main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Gamze İlgezdi, the ministry recently said the number of children staying with their mothers behind bars had reached 560 as of April.

Children are taken to prison in the absence of family members to look after them. The Turkish government has launched a sweeping crackdown across the country, detaining more than 140,000 and jailing some 50,000 over alleged or real links to a July 15, 2016 coup attempt.

In the meantime, there are currently 10 HDP deputies who are behind bars including the party’s Co-chairpersons Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ.

Turkey has stepped up its crackdown on Kurdish politicians since last fall. 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 10 HDP deputies behind bars.

The developments have attracted widespread criticism from the region and Western countries. (SCF with turkishminute.com) May 24, 2017

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