DTP MPs Face Prosecution in Turkey Despite Immunity


Six members of the pro-Kurdish DTP face trials because of speeches they made, despite having parliamentarian immunity.

From Bianet, Tolga Korkut reports:

Ahmet Türk, Emine Ayna, Fatma Kurtulan, Selahattin Demirtaş, Sebahat Tuncel and Aysel Tuğluk, all MPs for the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) face prosecution because of speeches they have made.

DemirtaÅŸ told bianet, “They are trying to prosecute us for speeches in which we called for peace. We do not believe that these speeches represent a crime. These are political trials. If the cases are political, then our attitude will be political, too.”

MPS will not make statements

The MPs have announced that they will refuse to make statements in court. Should they be taken by force, they have decided not to speak.

Members of parliament in Turkey have immunity from prosecution. However, the court are citing Articles 14 and 83 of the constitution, which lifts immunity if there are activities which “aim to destroy the inseparable unity of the state’s country and nation and the democratic and laicist Republic based on human rights.”

DemirtaÅŸ: “I called for peace”

However, DemirtaÅŸ remembers two of the speeches he made when he was president of the Human Rights Association (Ä°HD) Diyarbakır branch in 2005 as containing the folllowing: “The Kurdish question should be solved, there should be an end to bloodshed and battles, if necessary, (imprisoned PKK leader) Abdullah Öcalan should be talked to, the announcements of Kongra-Gel (Kurdistan People’s Congress) should be taken into account, mothers’ hearts should not be broken.” He argues that these speeches cannot be interpreted as an activity threatening the unity of the state.

DemirtaÅŸ faces a trial because of these speeches. He is accused of spreading propaganda for an illegal organisation or its aims.

He added that the current situation was ironic, as PKK leader Murat Karayılan and Turkish mainstream politicians had in recent days spoken about a peaceful solution.

Toptan is buying time

Parliamentary Speaker Köksal Toptan has announced that he is holding back the documents he was sent by the Ankara 11th Heavy Penal Court. He said, “We have not fulfilled the duty of notifying the parliamentarians. Why? We need some time.”

DemirtaÅŸ, who is also a lawyer, believes that it is likely that the court will postpone the hearing if no summons has been served.
Immunity either for all or no one

The DTP has called for a change of the two relevant articles in the constitution. Indeed, DemirtaÅŸ said that he had met with Toptan after the general elections in July 2007, warning that such issues may arise, but nothing was done.

He added that Prime Minister ErdoÄŸan and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal also faced legal accusations: “Either let us change these articles in the constitution, or let us lift immunity for everyone, excepting the immunity from prosecution for what one says in parliament. If that were the case, we would of course go and make a statement.”