ISSN 2330-717X

Turkey: Opposition MPs Arrested After Losing Parliamentary Status


By Hamdi Firat Buyuk

Turkish authorities arrested three opposition lawmakers on Friday after they were stripped of their parliamentary status the day before.

The lawmakers are Enis Berberoglu, from the main opposition Republican People’s Party, CHP, who had been on trial for espionage, and Leyla Guven and Musa Farisogulları, from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, HDP, who had been convicted of terrorism charges.

After the ruling Justice and Development Party, AKP, took the initiative to revoke the three MPs’ status, courts in different cities ordered their arrests, which police carried out swiftly on Friday morning.

“Revoking Berberoglu’s parliamentary membership … disregards the will of the people. We will continue our struggle for democracy to establish justice and rights,” CHP leader Kemal Kılıcdaroglu said.

He called it a “continuation of the July 20 coup”, referring to the date in 2016 when the government declared a state of emergency following a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

“Turkey’s parliament has removed our MPs’ parliamentary membership in an unlawful step. Guven and Farisogullari represent the will of millions. Revocation of their parliamentary seats will not intimidate us and our peoples!” the HDP wrote on Twitter with a hashtag meaning “There is a putsch attempt in parliament”.

Berberoglu was sentenced in 2017 to five years and 10 months in jail for revealing official secrets, after revealing images of what appeared to be trucks transporting weapons, allegedly by Turkish intelligence agents, to Islamist extremists in Syria.

He told reporters before his arrest that he was not surprised, “because there has been no improvement in the conditions for democracy in Turkey. It would have been wrong to expect the democratic lottery to spare me”.

Guven and Farisogulları were tried in the case of the Kurdistan Communities Union, KCK, which is allegedly an organ of the outlawed Kurdistan People’s Party, PKK, and sentenced to six and nine years in prison respectively.

The government took no steps to revoke their parliamentary immunity until June 4, even though the courts issued final rulings in their cases a long time ago. They had meanwhile appealed the rulings before the Supreme Court and were awaiting judgment.

The three lawmakers are the first to lose their parliamentary status in the current parliament. Between 2015 and 2018, 11 HDP lawmakers, including their former co-chairman Figen Yuksekdag, had their parliamentary status revoked for similar reasons.

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The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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