Turkish prosecutors have called for nine MPs from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP) to have their parliamentary immunity lifted, paving the way for their arrest following the 2014 protests.
The request comes amid mounting tensions between the HDP and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), following a row over the government’s handling of a hostage crisis that saw 13 Turkish citizens killed by Kurdish militants last week.
Ankara’s attorney general’s office said on Friday it had prepared a summary of the proceedings for parliamentarians, including HDP co-leader Pervin Buldan, which had been submitted to the justice ministry.
Turkey: hundreds arrested after the execution of 13 hostages by the PKK
The request is linked to an investigation into protests in Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey against the Islamic State group’s attack on the Syrian town of Kobane, which was then controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units militia. (YPG).
The protests saw 37 people killed in clashes between pro-Kurdish protesters, police and members of Turkish Hezbollah, a pro-Kurdish Islamist party. The government largely blamed the HDP for inciting violence.
The prosecutor’s office said it had evidence that lawmakers “had taken steps to initiate and prosecute events related to the violence.”
Many HDP MPs have had their parliamentary immunity withdrawn in recent years.
Former party co-leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag are both currently in jail on alleged links to terrorism, charges they deny.
The European Court of Human Rights, to which Turkey is a party, has called for Demirtas’ immediate release, calling his imprisonment “a cover for subsequent political purposes”.
‘HDP stands for PKK’
The Turkish state has repeatedly accused the HDP of having links with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a guerrilla war with Turkey since 1984.
These accusations only became fiercer when party MPs criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the failure of his mission to rescue 13 Turkish police and security agents, who had been kidnapped and held hostage in northern Iraq by the PKK.
The HDP argued that negotiations would have been more effective in securing their return.
Kidnapping of Turkish socialist raises fears of campaign of intimidation against leftists
Presidential spokesman Fahrettin Altun criticized the party as a PKK front on Sunday.
“HDP stands for PKK. HDP is a political puppet who acts on orders he receives from the PKK. We have seen this reality once again today,” he tweeted.
On Monday, security personnel arrested 718 people in 40 towns for alleged links to the PKK.
The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Erdogan’s far-right political ally, has repeatedly called for the HDP to be dissolved.
In a speech on Monday, MHP leader Devlet Bahceli mentionned that if Kobane’s protest inquiries did not lead to the shutdown of the HDP, his party would submit an official demand itself.
“If the duty falls to us, which will happen in a short time, the MHP will fully exercise its right under Article 100 of the Law on Political Parties and make its historic application,” he said during the meeting. a meeting of the parliamentary group of his party.
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