Turkish Parliament rejects Demirtaş’s request to attend HDP meetings via video conference

Selahattin Demirtaş.

A request by pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chairperson Selahattin Demirtaş, who has been behind bars since November, to address his party members from prison via IT Voice and Image System (SEGBİS), has been rejected by Turkish Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman, CNN Türk reported on Thursday.

Kahraman said Demirtaş’s had to do with the judiciary and that the Parliament Speaker’s Office could do nothing about it.

“As a co-leader of the HDP, the third largest party in Parliament, and a group leader, I want to attend our parliamentary group meeting, which is part of parliament’s legislative and oversignt duties, from prison via SEGBİS; and hence, I ask to be able to address my parliamentary group,” Demirtaş wrote in an official letter to the Parliament Speakers’ Office on July 18.

Demirtaş also called on all imprisoned HDP deputies to attend group meetings in Parliament via SEGBİS.

The jailed HDP co-chair recently said that HDP deputies are being kept in prison as part of a government strategy for snap elections.

“Preparations for the snap election alliance of the AKP [Justice and Development Party] and MHP [Nationalist Movement Party] have already gotten under way. This is the reason why they’re illegally keeping me and my colleagues in prison,” said Demirtaş in a written message read during the HDP’s “Conscience and Justice Watch” in Van province.

Condemning the efforts of the government to isolate HDP members, Demirtaş called on party members to participate in all activities of the people in the region.

Meanwhile, a motion has been filed against HDP Diyarbakır deputy Sibel Yiğitalp for “terrorist propaganda” and “explicitly insulting the government of the Turkish Republic and the military and security agency of the state” by the Diyarbakır Chief Prosecutor’s Office, the t24 news website reported on Thursday.

The motion, which has been sent to the Ministry of Justice, said Yiğitalp made a speech on August 28, 2016 and referred to an operation launched by security forces against members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

In the event permission is received to investigate Yiğitalp for the offences, another motion will be filed with a demand for the removal of her parliamentary immunity. If her immunity is removed, legal action will be taken against the deputy, who could be sentenced to between one-and-a-half and seven years in prison.

The government has been criticized for stepping up a crackdown on Kurdish politicians. There are currently 11 HDP deputies behind bars in Turkey. 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. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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