ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Turkish Parliament on Tuesday kicked out two more Kurdish lawmakers, Ibrahim Ayhan and Ahmet Yildirim, over court rulings against them, including one convicting the latter of insulting the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
With the removal of Ayhan and Yildirim, who represent constituencies from their home provinces of Sanliurfa and Mus respectively, the number of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MPs banished from Turkish national assembly rose to nine.
HDP, the country’s second-largest opposition bloc whose number of seats thus fell to 50 at the Parliament dominated by Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), condemned the decision.
“Head of our Parliamentary group Ahmet Yildirim was stripped of his lawmaker status for calling AKP’s leader Erdogan a shoddy emperor,” a statement on the party’s official Twitter feed read.
It said the reason behind Ayhan’s expulsion was his tribute on Twitter for a Turkish leftist revolutionary, Aziz Guler, killed within the ranks of the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) during a 2015 battle against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.
Last year, Ayhan received 15 months in jail for his paying respect to Guler on the grounds of “disseminating terrorist propaganda.”
The MP had campaigned for the repatriation of Guler’s body from Syrian Kurdistan, a process the Turkish government stalled for two months.
Yildirim had labeled the President as “the palace’s shoddy emperor” during a September 2015 speech he gave at a demonstration against the Turkish government forces’ human rights violations, including the killing of civilians at urban centers in clashes with Kurdish rebels.
In mid-February, a Turkish court of appeal upheld an earlier prison sentence of 14 months for Yildirim for that remark it deemed as an insult to Erdogan.
The court went so far as to ban him from politics, effectively preventing him from becoming a member of a party or run for any post in any elections, a first in modern Turkey’s history.
His loss of the seat at the national assembly for insulting the head of the state is another first, creating a perilous legal precedent for the opposition figures as a whole.
Another HDP lawmaker, Meral Danis Bestas, and the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, are among others who have called Erdogan a “shoddy emperor,” while some other politicians accused him of being “a dictator and thief.”
Apart from the imprisonment and politics ban, Turkish judiciary deprived him of civic, and custodial rights, including his right to be appointed to any state, provincial, municipal, or neighborhood position, joining a charitable organization, NGO, syndicate, or corporation.
In a separate trial in 2016, he was fined 10,000 Turkish Liras (2,630 USD) for an alleged insult to the President.
Among the HDP lawmakers earlier expelled from the Parliament are the party’s former Co-leader Figen Yuksekdag, Nursel Aydogan, Tugba Hezer, Faysal Sariyildiz, Besime Konca, Ferhat Encu, and veteran Kurdish politician and Sakharov Laureate Leyla Zana.
Yuksekdag, Aydogan, Konca, and Encu are in prison whereas Hezer and Sariyildiz have been in self-exile in a European country.
A massive crackdown on the Kurdish movement leading to the detention of at least 5,000 members of the HDP, including 80 mayors, began in late 2016 with the arrest of high profile politicians, including the party’s then Co-chairs, Yuksekdag, and Selahattin Demirtas.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany