Turkish prosecutor charges main opposition CHP’s deputy of terrorism

CHP deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu

A Turkish prosecutor in Diyarbakır submitted a summary of proceeding for main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu, who is also a prominent Kurdish lawyer and human rights defender, by charging him with terrorism, on Tuesday.

“A public prosecutor in Diyarbakır has prepared a summary of proceeding about me on charges of ‘being a member of a terrorist organization’ and sent it to the parliament,” Tanrıkulu said in a parliamentary speech on Tuesday.

Stating that the lawmakers could not be prosecuted for what they say in parliament, Tanrıkulu has criticized the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for exerting influence over judicial bodies. “There cannot be any cases or investigations in accordance with this principle of immunity. However, there are some hidden prosecutors who have given themselves a task,” he said.

He continued to say that “I have been a lawyer in Diyarbakır for 25 years. I have presided over the Diyarbakır Bar. I am a founding member of the Human Rights Association (İHD), Human Rights Foundation and Amnesty International and have not been a member of a terrorist organization. However, during the five years of my lawmaker position … I have [allegedly] become a member of a [terrorist] organization during AKP rule,” he said.

The legislative immunity of lawmakers was lifted by a constitutional amendment approved on May 20, 2016, with majority votes from the CHP, AKP and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The prosecutors have also filed a summary of proceedings on several CHP lawmakers in May.

In order to lift the immunity, a public prosecutor or related bodies must file a summary of proceedings about a lawmaker to the Prime Ministry’s Office. The summary is then assessed by the Justice Ministry and conveyed to a parliamentary commission. If the commission rules to lift the immunity, the file is then sent to the general assembly to be voted upon.

Turkey has stepped up its crackdown on Kurds and Kurdish politicians in recent months. Trustees have been appointed to dozens of municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast, while hundreds of local Kurdish politicians as well as 11 HDP deputies including the party’s co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ have been arrested on terror charges.

June 1, 2017

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