UPDATED: Turkish parliament strips 3 opposition lawmakers of MP status

Turkey’s legislature stripped three opposition deputies of their parliamentary status in a decision on June 4, 2020 after their convictions were finalized at an appeals court, Reuters reported.

Enis Berberoğlu of the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) was convicted of disclosing government secrets after providing a newspaper with a video showing Turkey’s intelligence agency trucking weapons into Syria.

Leyla Güven and Musa Farisoğulları of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), on the other hand, were convicted of being members of a terrorist organization.

The decision drew sharp criticism from their parties. “This is a result of the Julu 20 civilian coup process, and it disregards the national will. We will continue the democratic fight to obtain justice, rights, and law,” CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu wrote on Twitter.

The tweet did not mention the case of the two HDP deputies.

Deputy Chairman of the CHP’s parliamentary group Engin Altay said the move contravened both the constitution and parliamentary bylaws. He added that a judicial examination of Berberoğlu was still underway.

Addressing the ruling, Deputy Chair of the HDP parliamentary group Meral Danış Beştaş said: “Why were these files brought to the floor today? Who did you get orders from? With which authority you dismiss representatives of the people?”

A tweet from the HDP’s official account read: “The AKP’s [Justice and Development Party] enmity towards the Kurds and the pro-coup mentality continues. We oppose the usurpation of the will of the people.”

Right after the parliamentary decision the Diyarbakır Public Prosecutor’s Office issued arrest warrants for HDP deputies Güven and Farisoğulları on Thursday night. Farisoğulları was detained by the police on his way from Diyarbakır to Ankara shortly after the arrest warrant. Güven was also taken into police custody from her home in Diyarbakır. They were then put under official arrest by a court.

CHP deputy Berberoğlu was detained in İstanbul on the same night. Berberoğlu had announced earlier that he would be going to the court early Friday morning of his own will to serve his remaining prison time.

The Turkish government has repeatedly accused the HDP of ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought against the state in the largely Kurdish Southeast since 1984 and is designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. The HDP denies such links.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP has 291 deputies in the 600-seat assembly, while the CHP now has 138 seats and the HDP has 58, making it the second largest opposition party.

The AKP is planning to push measures through parliament with its Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) allies that affect how political groups may contest elections and could hamper new opposition parties taking part in any snap elections.

Those plans would not be affected by Thursday’s removal of the three politicians’ parliamentary status.

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