The opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on Sunday announced the suspension of its parliamentary activities following the arrest of 12 of its lawmakers on Friday.
“We have decided to suspend our activities in the legislative power and to meet our people again,” party spokesman Ayhan Bilgen said following a meeting of party’s executive in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim later condemned the decision as “disrespectful to the nation”.
“If you will not go to parliament, the nation does whatever necessary in the election,” he said at a series of inauguration ceremonies in Turkey’s northeastern Bayburt province. “If you would not recognize the national will, the nation will not recognize you either.”
He called on the HDP to return to parliament “before it is too late” and said: “No politician can be a shield against terrorism [or] can live in terrorism’s pocket while using his position.”
The HDP, parliament’s third largest party, has 59 deputies in the Grand National Assembly. On Friday, 12 were arrested for failing to answer a court summons linked to a counter-terrorism investigation.
Nine, including co-leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, were remanded in custody pending trial. Arrest warrants for three others remain outstanding.
Parliamentary immunity from prosecution for lawmakers facing criminal investigation was lifted earlier this year. Although it affects deputies from all four parliamentary parties it is mostly politicians from the HDP, which has been accused of ties to the PKK terrorist organization, and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) that are involved.
Most HDP politicians face charges of spreading terrorist propaganda through speeches.
Reporting by Ozgur Ayaydin and Aylin Sirikli : Emin Avundukluoglu