Committee recommends lifting immunity of Saliha Aydeniz

With Saliha Aydeniz of the DBP, another Kurdish MP in Turkey is to be stripped of her parliamentary immunity. A recommendation to this effect was made today by the responsible committee in Ankara.

Kurdish politician Saliha Aydeniz is threatened with the lifting of her parliamentary immunity. The committee formed by the parliamentary Commission for Constitution and Justice met in Ankara today and made a recommendation to this effect with the votes of the AKP MPs.

The background to this is the participation of the co-chair of the Democratic Regions Party (DBP) in the "Great March to Gemlik" for the lifting of the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan in Istanbul. The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office accuses the 49-year-old politician of "resisting state authority" at the demonstration in June and violating the Turkish law on assemblies. The MP sees the threat of prosecution as a targeted action against her party as well as the HDP and described the event as a "state-orchestrated criminalisation campaign" to justify a possible dissolution before the presidential and parliamentary elections.

"Politically motivated and legally unjustifiable"

HDP MP Abdullah Koç expressed similar views at today's committee meeting. He said that the procedure to lift Saliha Aydeniz's immunity was politically motivated and legally unjustifiable. "The recordings of the ill-treatment of the MPs have not been included in the file. The Assembly Act has been shelved and the relevant rulings of the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights have been ignored. We have seen once again that fundamental democratic rights have been abrogated in Turkey and that parliamentary immunity does not apply to all MPs. Our struggle continues, we will continue to raise the illegality of the action," Koç said.

CHP (Republican People’s Party) MP Rafet Zeybek also voted against the lifting of Saliha Aydeniz's immunity. The case will now be handed over to another committee, where Aydeniz will formally have another chance to defend herself. After that, a decision will be made in parliament.

Withdrawal of immunity for "prevention of terrorism”

In May 2016, the Turkish parliament approved a constitutional amendment initiated by Erdoğan's Islamist AKP party to "prevent terrorism", thus paving the way for the prosecution of MPs. At the time, a total of 154 members of parliament were affected by the withdrawal of immunity, more than a third of them MPs from the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). Immediately after the constitutional amendment, numerous investigations were initiated against members of the opposition. The wave of repression unleashed culminated in the arrest of ten HDP MPs, including the then co-chairs Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, on 4 November 2016. The latest case of parliamentary immunity being withdrawn by the Turkish National Assembly occurred at the beginning of March when HDP MP Semra Güzel was affected. The 38-year-old, who is a trained doctor, is accused of PKK membership, among other things. The starting point is photos showing Güzel with her former fiancé, a guerrilla fighter who was later killed by a Turkish air strike.