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Iran Press TV

Turkish parliament strips pro-Kurdish opposition party leader of lawmaking status

Iran Press TV

Tue Feb 21, 2017 6:4PM

The Turkish parliament has removed Figen Yuksekdag, the co-leader of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), from her status as a legislator, three months after security forces detained the lawmaker as part of a "counter-terrorism investigation."

The country's state-run Anadolu news agency, citing an official announcement made on the parliament's website, shared the news on Tuesday, adding that the removal came after the parliament received an official message from Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim's office earlier in the day, requesting the move.

According to the message, read out by the deputy speaker in the plenary session, a top court had upheld a guilty verdict against Yuksekdag on "terror charges," and hence she must be stripped of her status as a lawmaker in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.

Prosecutors have already sought a prison term of up to 83 years for her on charges of inciting violence and propaganda in alleged support of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is deemed as a terrorist organization by Ankara.

Back in November last year, security forces detained Yuksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas, another co-leader of the HDP and a member of the parliament, on charges similar to those leveled against Yuksekdag. If he is found guilty in the case, he risks up to 142 years in prison.

They, however, have all denied having any ties with the PKK, or making propaganda for it.

Meanwhile, a court in the eastern city of Dogubayazit ordered Demirtas, who is currently being held at a prison in Edirne, in northwestern Turkey, to serve five months in prison, on conviction of denigrating the government.

The pro-Kurdish HDP is the third largest party in the 550-seat Turkish parliament with 59 seats. Yuksekdag's removal, however, means that the number of party lawmakers has now fallen to 58. Almost a dozen of other HDP members were also arrested in November last year.

The crackdown on opposition is part of measures taken under a state of emergency declared following the failed coup of July 15, 2016, which was blamed on a movement led by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Ankara has so far arrested over 35,000 people and sacked more than 100,000 others, including military personnel, judges, and teachers, over suspected links to Gulen, as part of the post-coup crackdown. Many rights groups have denounced Ankara's heavy clampdown.

Gulen has censured the coup attempt and strongly denied any involvement in the violence.

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