ERBIL, (Kurdistan 24) – The Parliament of Turkey on Thursday kicked out two more Kurdish lawmakers, Osman Baydemir and Selma Irmak of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), only a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced snap elections for June 24.
Kurdistan 24’s Ankara bureau said the reason behind prominent politician Baydemir’s ouster was his conviction by a court for “insulting a public employee.”
A Turkish court in Diyarbakir had late last year sentenced him to one year, five months, and 15 days of imprisonment for calling three Turkish police officers “fascists, and low-lives” during his term as the mayor of the major Kurdish city in 2012.
For Irmak, on the other hand, a prison sentence of 10 years for “membership in a terrorist group,” upheld by a high court last month, constituted the justification for her removal from the Parliament.
She has been in jail since late 2016 when the Turkish government launched an unprecedented crackdown on Kurdish politics that has seen multiple arrests, and jailing of a dozen MPs, including HDP’s former Co-leader Selahattin Demirtas, over 60 mayors, and thousands of party members.
In 2016, Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)-dominated national assembly passed a law stripping lawmakers from immunity, a move that has disproportionately targeted the HDP.
With Baydemir of the Sanliurfa and Irmak of the Mardin province, the number of the country’s second-largest opposition bloc’s lawmakers removed from the Parliament rose to 11.
At least one of them, Ahmet Yildirim, has faced a ban from politics for remarks judiciary considered an “insult” to Erdogan.
In a post on its official Twitter page, HDP headquarters condemned the action against its members, blaming it on the “dirty” alliance of AKP with the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in the run-up to the upcoming elections.
“Those who usurp people’s will shall go to the ash heap of history. Baydemir and Irmak continue to represent the people,” it said.
Famous for his outspoken style and fierce criticism of the Turkish state, Baydemir made headlines last year when the Parliament’s Speaker fined and banned him for two sessions over his use of the word “Kurdistan.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany