Turkey: Parliament revokes seats of 2 HDP deputies
Due to absenteeism, opposition deputies Tugba Hezer Ozturk, Faysal Sariyildiz lose seats
By Emin Avundukluoglu
Two deputies from the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lost their parliamentary seats on Thursday.
Lawmakers voted to eject Tugba Hezer Ozturk and Faysal Sariyildiz, who both represented southeast constituencies, from the Grand National Assembly over absenteeism.
The pair have not entered the legislature since last October, a month before arrest warrants were issued against them on charges including membership of a terrorist organization and making terrorist propaganda.
They have been overseas for several months and were not arrested in November, when more than a dozen HDP lawmakers were rounded up for alleged terror-related offenses.
The government has linked the HDP to the PKK, which is considered a terror organization by Turkey, the U.S. and EU. The HDP has denied links to the group.
Deputies voted by 324-20 to oust Ozturk, who represented Van, while Sariyildiz, of Sirnak, was voted out by 328-29. The vote was conducted on the basis of the earlier recommendation of a special joint commission.
HDP deputies protested the decision by banging their desks.
“We are the representatives of the nation,” the party’s Deputy Group Chairwoman Filiz Kerestecioglu said following the vote. “You should know it. You cannot drop our deputyship in the eyes of the nation.”
The vote left 55 HDP deputies in parliament. The party had 59 seats in the 550-seat assembly following the November 2015 general election but has now lost four deputies.
Co-leader Figen Yuksekdag was stripped of her parliamentary status in February after she was convicted in a terrorism-related case and lawmaker Nursel Aydogan was thrown out in May as she faced charges including membership of a terrorist organization.
Selahattin Demirtas, a party co-chairman, is currently in prison with eight other HDP deputies awaiting trial.
The arrests came after a vote last year to lift parliamentary immunity.
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