ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) - Turkey's Constitutional Court on Thursday rejected an appeal by two Kurdish lawmakers, Tugba Hezer of the Van Province and Faysal Sariyildiz of the Sirnak Province, to reverse a decision on their ouster from the Parliament two months ago.
In a unanimous vote, all members of the highest court agreed to dismiss the request by the two opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmakers.
A short press release on the court's website did not offer an explanation for its refusal to take the case into legal consideration.
This week the HDP has been protesting the continued pre-trial imprisonment of its co-leader Selahattin Demirtas and that of ten other MPs in front of the court in Ankara.
The Turkish Parliament voted for the removal of Hezer and Sariyildiz on the grounds that they failed to attend legislative sessions for over a year.
Both MPs had fled Turkey to Europe in May 2016, shortly after the Turkish Parliament passed a law lifting lawmakers’ immunity from prosecution.
Members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and those of its far-right ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), voted overwhelmingly to kick Sariyildiz and Hezer out of the Parliament.
Thus the number of the HDP lawmakers at the 550-seated Turkish Parliament fell from 59 to 55.
HDP co-chair Serpil Kemalbay has called the dismissal of her MPs a “disgrace" and said the move was a violation of people’s will.
The Parliament previously kicked out two HDP lawmakers: the party’s former co-leader Figen Yuksekdag and Nursel Aydogan, following a court conviction.
Turkish courts have issued arrest warrants for both Hezer, the Parliament’s youngest member at 27, and Sariyildiz on terrorism-related charges for their campaign speeches and attendance at funerals for fallen Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) members who fight government forces.
According to Turkish media, one of Hezer’s brothers was a PKK fighter killed by the army.
Reports also claim her sister remains in the ranks of the US-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG) which is leading the war against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government officials have accused the HDP, the country’s second-largest opposition block, of being a political front for the PKK.
The ongoing crackdown on the HDP has seen thousands of arrests against its members nationwide as 11 of its lawmakers, including Demirtas, remain in prison since last year.
Editing by Ava Homa