PM says will remove immunity of pro-Kurdish deputies

PM says will remove immunity of pro-Kurdish deputies
# 27 November 2012 19:51 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan is determined to remove the parliamentary immunity of 10 pro-Kurdish deputies following nearly 800 complaints filed against them in Parliament accusing them of having links with a terrorist organization, APA reports quoting Today's Zaman.

Following ErdoÄŸan's remarks, a motion prepared by the Prime Ministry was submitted to Parliament to divest the BDP deputies of their parliamentary immunity.

ErdoÄŸan strongly criticized deputies from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) while speaking to reporters on Monday when asked about his opinion on a recent incident in which a BDP deputy called on people to take up arms against Turkish police. He said he did not want to talk about individual incidents.

A video broadcast by Turkish media on Monday showed BDP deputy Özdal Üçer telling people to arm themselves against security forces at the funeral ceremony of a Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorist.

After the video went viral on the Internet, the BDP released a written statement dismissing the news as “psychological warfare” against the party and its officials.

The statement said Üçer didn't call on people to take up weapons against security officials, but rather against some unidentified armed people who entered the funeral tent and pointed guns at those gathered.

Head of the Parliamentary Constitutional Commission Burhan Kuzu said on Tuesday since the BDP deputies' statements have been met with outrage in society, it could possible to possible the motions more quickly.

Also on Tuesday, “We will continue to engage in politics whether we are in prison or outside,” defiantly said Van independent Aysel TuÄŸluk, whose candidacy in her region was supported by the BDP.

BDP Deputy Chairwoman Gülten Kışanak accused the prime minister of trying to push Kurds out of politics.

Republican People's Party (CHP) Kemal KılıçdaroÄŸlu, who spoke at his party's parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, “The CHP's view on this is clear. We say all immunities should be removed, with the exception of immunity from prosecution for one's public statements.”

He said deputies accused of corruption, theft or rigging tenders should be brought before courts, but deputies should be allowed to speak as freely as they wish.

ErdoÄŸan's comments came just a week after hundreds of Kurdish inmates ended a hunger strike in response to an appeal from the PKK's leader and the government signaled it was open to talks to end a conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people.

BDP deputies are the subject of frequent investigations by prosecutors but are immune from prosecution while they are in office, unless the assembly votes in favor of lifting their immunity.

ErdoÄŸan avoided directly commenting when reporters asked him about incident in which pro-Kurdish deputy Gülten Kışanak had reportedly clashed verbally with Turkish security forces in Diyarbakır, but the prime minister said his deputies are considering making “different” decisions in Parliament when the motions accusing BDP deputies of having links with terrorist activities are put under discussion. He was referring to his government's previous show of tolerance in shelving hundreds of anti-BDP motions in Parliament.

The Diyarbakır Public Prosecutors' Office earlier submitted its own motion to the Justice Ministry to divest 10 BDP deputies of their parliamentary immunity based on charges that they have links to a terrorist organization.

The motion will be forwarded to Parliament for discussion.

"Our decision will be in favor of lifting the immunity from prosecution of those individuals who hide behind that immunity. After that, it's up to the judiciary," ErdoÄŸan told reporters before departing on a visit to Spain.

"I believe there should be a very different practice in Parliament for those who take on the guise of being an extension of the separatist terrorist organization," ErdoÄŸan said, adding that there were 800 such cases currently before the assembly.

ErdoÄŸan noted that these 800 motions in Parliament related to the BDP are not “ordinary” documents, implying that accusations are based on solid evidence. He said his parliamentary group will evaluate these motions as necessary and make a decision.

The issue of lifting immunity for several BDP deputies was reinforced after the release of a video showing BDP deputies and terrorists from the PKK chatting and hugging one another along a highway in the Åžemdinli district of the southeastern province of Hakkari.

An investigation was launched into the incident by prosecutors, who said the meeting appeared to have been a pre-scheduled one, contrary to the BDP's claims that it happened spontaneously when the terrorists blocked a road along their route. But parliamentary immunity offers legal protection to the deputies if any wrongdoing is found.

'BDP deputies won't lose their status as members of Parliament'

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir BozdaÄŸ on Tuesday said that even if the immunity of pro-Kurdish BDP deputies is lifted, they will not be stripped of their lawmaker status.

He said that if their immunity is lifted, the obstacle before a legal probe against the deputies would be removed but that they would still be able to continue their work in Parliament.

Speaking to reporters in Parliament, he said the proposal on lifting the immunity of several BDP deputies would be deliberately discussed in a joint parliamentary commission that will comprise members from the parliamentary Justice Commission and the Constitutional Reconciliation Commission.

BozdaÄŸ said if the joint commission approves the proposal to lift the immunity of the 10 BDP deputies, the proposal will be submitted to the General Assembly to be voted on. If the General Assembly approves the proposal, the deputies will face legal charges of having links to a terrorist organization and would be tried in a court of law.

BozdaÄŸ reiterated, however, that this would not mean that the deputies would lose their status as members of Parliament.