The Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) has officially revoked on Tuesday the parliamentary immunity of Can Atalay, a member from the Labour Party of Turkey (TİP) representing Hatay, subsequent to a decision by the 3rd Penal Chamber of the Court of Cassation. The session, led by Deputy Speaker Bekir Bozdağ of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), announced the verdict, resulting in the formal termination of Atalay’s membership.
Atalay, previously sentenced to 18 years in prison in the Gezi Park trials, remained incarcerated despite two rulings by the Constitutional Court of Turkey acknowledging violations of his rights. Following the announcement, opposition MPs, displaying placards, marched towards the podium in protest.
Sırrı Süreyya Önder, Deputy Speaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (DEM Party) previously announced he would reject reading the verdict during a session he resides. The Turkish government, however, chose a session headed by a Deputy Speaker from their party.
The Republican People’s Party (CHP) requested a closed session, purportedly to delay the reading of the decision and ensure a detailed record of the proceedings in the parliamentary minutes. Deputy Speaker Bozdağ called for non-entitled individuals to vacate the General Assembly during the closed session.
TİP’s Chairman, Erkan Baş, took to the podium while members of the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) vocally condemned the action, accusing it of undermining the Constitution. The CHP’s application for a closed meeting was initially accepted but later, the assembly resumed in an open session after a vote against the proposal.
The decision to strip Atalay of his parliamentary status sparked heated debate within the assembly. AKP Group Deputy Chair Abdullah Güler defended the action, citing adherence to the Constitution and binding rulings from the Court of Cassation. In contrast, CHP Group Deputy Chair Gökhan Günaydın emphasised the issue was not merely about one MP’s absence but a broader conflict within the judiciary.
Erkan Baş, in his address, accused the assembly of disregarding the Constitution and protested the decision to read out the Court of Cassation’s ruling, which he deemed unconstitutional. He questioned why Atalay had been detained for nine months if he was still considered an MP and criticised Deputy Speaker Bozdağ for executing the reading.
This development follows the Constitutional Court’s repeated rulings on human rights violations against Atalay, who has been detained since the Gezi Park trial verdicts. The 13th High Criminal Court in Istanbul had forwarded the case to the Court of Cassation following the Constitutional Court’s initial decision, leading to the current outcome.