Stripping HDP MPs of immunity as a way of silencing opposition

The Constitutional and Judiciary Committee in the Turkish Parliament has received numerous presidential motions to lift MPs' immunity, in particular those belonging to the HDP group.

The Constitutional and Judiciary Committee in the Turkish Parliament has received many presidential motions to lift MPs' immunity. The demand to strip the MPs of their status concerns 18 MPs from three different parties. However, the most targeted are those belonging to the HDP group.

Four of the motions concern HDP MP Sezai Temelli, two for party’s co-chair Pervin Buldan, Tayip Temel, Gülistan Kılıç Koçyiğit and Berdan Öztürk. In the case of Murat Sarısaç, Kemal Bülbül, Murat Çepni, Ömer Öcalan, Nuran Imir, Ebru Günay, Ümit Dikbayır, Sait Dede, Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, Ahmet Çelik and Mehmet Rüştü Tiryaki, an application for the withdrawal of immunity was submitted, the same applies to Gürsel Tekin from the CHP. Another two motions are directed against the co-chair of the HDP sister party DBP, Saliha Aydeniz.

All requests were sent from Recep Tayyip Erdogan's presidential office. The procedure resembles a punishment and further criminalization of the HDP and DBP. It is based on general allegations of support for the PKK, supposedly contained in political statements.

Proceedings to close the HDP are pending before the Turkish Constitutional Court. A decision is expected before the parliamentary and presidential elections in May.

Lifting immunity to eliminate opposition

The lifting of immunity with the aim of the subsequent imprisonment of opposition MPs is one of the most used means by the Turkish state in recent years to eliminate any political dissent.

ECtHR: Stripping immunity means suppression of pluralism

At the end of November, more than 2,000 applications for the withdrawal of mandates were waiting for a decision in the Turkish National Assembly. More than 1,500 HDP and DBP MPs are targeted by these applications. Various motions have even accused some politicians from the HDP group of being members of an “armed and terrorist” organization.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled in several sentences regarding the lifting of immunity of HDP MPs that this action by the Turkish state has the specific purpose of suppressing pluralism and restricting the freedom of political debate.