Kurdish MP banned from politics for 'insulting' Erdogan

HDP lawmaker Ahmet Yildirim called President Erdogan a "shoddy emperor” in a 2015 speech.
author_image Ari Khalidi

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) - A Turkish court of appeal on Friday upheld a prison sentence of 14 months for Kurdish lawmaker Ahmet Yildirim over remarks it deemed an insult to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The parliament member has also been banned from politics.

The opposition’s Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Deputy Group Chair at the Parliament, Yildirim, had previously called Erdogan "the palace’s shoddy emperor" during a September 2015 speech he gave in protest of the Turkish government forces' human rights violations at urban centers in clashes with Kurdish rebels.

A full two years later, a court in the Kurdish city of Mus trying the MP handed down the prison sentence, depriving him from certain political, civic, and custodial rights, including his right to be elected to Parliament, or to be appointed to any state, provincial, municipal, or neighborhood position.

Yildirim is also barred from joining a political party, charitable organization, NGO, syndicate, or corporation, according to the 53rd article of the Turkish criminal code.

The conviction paves the way for the ousting of lawmakers from the Turkish Parliament over verbal insults to the President, a first in the country’s history. 

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Photo: Reuters)
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Photo: Reuters)

For his removal, the Prime Ministry sent a summary of proceedings against him to the Parliament, Kurdistan 24 bureau in Ankara reported.

Seven HDP MPs have already been kicked out from the national assembly for having received a sentence in 'terrorism and separatism trials' since a crackdown on the Kurdish movement began in late 2016 with the arrest of high profile politicians, including the party's then Co-chairs, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag.

A political ban on Yildirim for the words he used could create a legal precedent.

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."

Thousands of people have been investigated by prosecutors or sued by President's lawyers for insulting him.

Last month, a court fined Demirtas 15,000 Liras (3,980 USD) for having called Erdogan a thief.

Editing by Nadia Riva