Turkish Parliament committee decides to oust HDP deputy Leyla Zana

Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Leyla Zana.

A Turkish parliamentary committee on Tuesday agreed on the removal of Leyla Zana, a veteran Kurdish politician and a deputy of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), from the Parliament. The committee has used her absence from legislative sessions and her altering of the deputy oath when she was elected in 2015 as pretext for ousting her.

Reacting the decision HDP’s deputy co-leader Meral Danış Beştaş has defined the decision as purely political. “She is one of our renowned figures who has paid a great price for the Kurdish politics,” Beştaş said. “Kenan Evren’s (1980 military coup maker) spirit rules Turkey,” she added, reminding that the current Turkish Constitution was a remnant of the 1980 military coup’s leader and general who later became the seventh President of the Republic.

Kurdistan24 online news outlet has reported that the final decision to strip Zana of her lawmaker status belongs to the Parliament’s general assembly dominated by Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP). Of the 550-seated Parliament, 276 votes will be enough to oust Zana. The AKP has 317 seats, whereas the HDP holds 54 with five of its deputies have been already ousted.

The Parliament previously kicked out HDP’s former co-leader Figen Yüksekdağ, Nursel Aydoğan of Diyarbakır, Tuğba Hezer of Van, and Faysal Sarıyıldız of Şırnak provinces.

While both Yüksekdağ and Aydoğan are serving prison sentences along with eight other lawmakers and their co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş, Hezer and Sarıyıldız have fled to a European country as the result of an ongoing state crackdown on the HDP.

Zana was barred from executing her legislative powers since her election in November 2015 due to her slightly changing the lawmakers’ oath for taking office during the Parliament’s opening ceremony then. Her alteration of the phrase “the Turkish nation” to “the nation of Turkey” in the lawmakers’ oath led to the Speaker barring her from the legislative process.

She is now, for the second time, about to lose the seat she won in elections. In 1994, a court sentenced her to 15 years of incarceration for “treason and membership in the PKK.” The conviction was handed out because of a speech she gave on Kurdish rights during a visit to the United States, leading to her subsequent removal from the legislative branch.

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