ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A majority of lawmakers at the Turkish parliament on Thursday voted in favor of removing a fellow MP, Leyla Zana of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), from her elected post.
Parliament’s Deputy Speaker Aysenur Bahcekapili said the reasons behind the decision against the prominent Kurdish politician were her absence from legislative sessions and her altering of the MPs’ oath when she was elected in 2015.
This was the second time the Sakharov Laureate Zana was kicked out of the Turkish Parliament in her political life.
Of the 324 lawmakers present at the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)-dominated Parliament, 302 voted “yes” to kick out Zana, whereas 22 objected.
With Zana’s removal, the number of HDP lawmakers ousted from the assembly rose to six.
“[The decision] is a shame for this Parliament,” MP Filiz Kerestecioglu said during a press conference, Kurdistan 24’s Ankara bureau reported.
Kerestecigolu and MP Mithat Sancar reminded of Zana’s arrest at the Parliament’s yard 24 years ago along with four other Kurdish lawmakers over alleged membership in the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“History is repeating itself,” read a statement on the HDP website.
The left-wing party now holds 53 seats with six of its lawmakers ousted.
Among them are the party’s former Co-leader Figen Yuksekdag, Nursel Aydogan, Tugba Hezer, Faysal Sariyildiz, and Besime Konca.
While both Yuksekdag and Aydogan are serving prison sentences along with eight other lawmakers and their Co-leader Selahattin Demirtas, Hezer and Sariyildiz 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 excluding her from the legislative process.
Zana became a powerful symbol of national consciousness for the Kurds in Turkey when she took the MP oath in the Kurdish language in 1991, the year she became the first female Kurdish lawmaker making it to the Parliament.
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 and imprisonment.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany