On May 20th, 2016, under extreme pressure of President Erdoğan, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (GNAT) lifted the parliamentary immunity of 138 lawmakers through a provisional Constitutional amendment. This became possible with the joint efforts of an anti-Kurdish Turkish nationalist alliance formed among the ruling AKP, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and the so-called “social democratic” Republican People Party (CHP). This motion specifically targets the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), paving the way for the prosecution of its 53 of 59 MPs with groundless accusations.
The HDP represents Kurdish political opposition and other marginalized ethno-religious communities, women, labor and ecologist/environmentalist groups who came together around values of pluralist democracy, peace, justice and equality. Despite the antidemocratic %10 election threshold, murder of our members, mass arrest and imprisonment of thousands of our party executives, members and electorate, hundreds of physical attacks on our offices, and constant criminalization and scapegoating, the Erdoğan regime failed to prevent us from entering the parliament in the elections on June 7th and November 1st, 2015.
The lifting of parliamentary immunities should be understood as a political coup to exclude the Kurds and other marginalized peoples represented by the HDP from the parliament. This coup is also a firm step to replace Turkey’s already weak parliamentary democracy with a “Turkish-type presidential system” in which the legislative, executive and judiciary powers are monopolized by the President himself.
In 1994, parliamentary immunity of Democracy Party’s (DEP) Kurdish MPs was lifted and they were sent to prison under the pretext of “fighting terror.” Rather than resolving it, excluding the Kurds from the parliament did aggravate the Kurdish conflict in Turkey, costing the country tens of thousands of human lives in the following years. Twenty-two years later, the Erdoğan regime is repeating the same grave mistake. In a political climate in which anybody critical of the President Erdoğan is branded as a “traitor,” “terrorist” or “supporter of terrorism,” the closure of parliamentary representation to the Kurds would only increase authoritarianism, political unrest, violence, and polarization.
The HDP will continue its democratic struggle against authoritarian policies of the Erdoğan regime. Given the manipulation of law as a punitive mechanism against elected Kurdish mayors, journalists, pro-peace academics, or the citizens alleged to have “insulted the President,” we do not expect the courts to be fair to HDP deputies. After all, the decision of the GNAT has nothing to do with the law; it is a political decision that violates the Constitution and the law itself.
The lifting of immunities and possible exclusion of HDP deputies from the parliament is in essence a political choice between democracy and authoritarianism, between peace and war; forcefully imposed upon the peoples of Turkey by the Erdoğan regime. In this critical context, we invite all persons and institutions embracing universal democratic values to meticulously observe the political and legal process in Turkey and stand in solidarity with our struggle against this totalitarian attack on the HDP and the political future of the country.
HDP Representative in Europe