Erdogan's office asks to strip opposition leaders, 19 MPs of immunity

The move against HDP's Buldan, CHP's Kilicdaroglu and 19 MPs from their respective parties comes a week after ECtHR told Turkey to release Demirtas.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The office of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday demanded from the country’s Parliament to strip the leaders of the main and Kurdish opposition parties of immunity along with 19 other lawmakers, to pave the way for potential prosecution.

The move comes only a week after the European Court of Human Rights, which Turkey is a party to, ruled that Ankara was unjustly and politically holding Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtas in detention for two years and that authorities had to release him.

It is also the latest in a far-reaching crackdown on the opposition, Kurdish movement, and civil society that has over the past two years seen the jailing of up to 150,000 people, 50,000 of them now political prisoners.

The Presidency has sent the parliament 43 files containing criminal charges against the Co-chair of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Pervin Buldan, leader of the largest opposition bloc, the Republican People's Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, and other MPs from their respective parties, the state media reported.

If approved by a majority of lawmakers, they will have to face the charges by prosecutors, and also appear in front of courts that could land them in jail—as was the case with Demirtas and a dozen other now-former lawmakers from the previous parliament.

It was not immediately clear what the accusations against them were.

However, earlier reports this month by the pro-government media wrote that charges against the opposition politicians varied from “terrorist membership, terrorist propaganda to insulting the President,” based on their speeches.

Both Buldan and Kilicdaroglu are members of the national assembly which is dominated by Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its junior far-right ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the number of whose lawmakers suffices to purge their rivals.

Among HDP MPs targeted by the latest move from Erdogan’s administration are Feleknas Uca and Ayse Acar Basaran of Batman, Dirayet Dilan Tasdemir and Berdan Ozturk of Agri, Nimetullah Erdogmus of Sanliurfa, Ayhan Bilgen of Kars, Bedia Ozgokce Ertan of Van, Imam Tascier and Garo Paylan of Diyarbakir, Mahmut Togrul of Gaziantep, and Filiz Kerestecioglu Demir of Ankara.

Those from the CHP who may lose parliamentary immunity from prosecution are Mehmet Goker of Burdur, Okan Gaytancioglu of Edirne, Mustafa Sezgin Tanrikulu, Mahmut Tanal, and Aykut Erdogdu of Istanbul, Kadim Durmaz of Tokat, Cetin Osman Budak of Antalya.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany