A majority of MPs in the Turkish parliament voted on Tuesday to lift the immunity of a Kurdish MP who had been indicted on the charge of being a ‘member of an armed terrorist group’ after photos showing her with her boyfriend who was an alleged member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were revealed.
The MPs for the ruling coalition of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and those for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the other opposition Iyi Party voted in favour of lifting immunity against prosecution, while only the MPs for the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) voted against.
The MPs for the HDP placed placards on their rows during the general assembly that read, “No to a coup against democratic politics”, “Don’t lay your hands on my will and my deputy”, “Semra Güzel is the will of the people”, “Jin Jiyan Azadi” (“Women, Life, Freedom”).
Saruhan Oluç, the parliamentary co-chair of the HDP, made a lengthy address before the voting in defence of Güzel.
As he made a brief assessment of the 100-year-old Kurdish question that still remains to be resolved and emphasised how the ‘peace talks’ in 2013-14 had presented a historical opportunity for a peaceful resolution, he reminded the general assembly that the photos which led to the indictment of Güzel belonged to 2014 when the talks were in progress and MPs visited headquarters of the PKK under the authorisation of the government.
Oluç went on to say that the eight-year-old photos showing Güzel with a PKK member were also a reflection of the reality of the Kurdish question.
“Whenever you visit a Kurd’s home in Diyarbakır, Van, Mardin, Bitlis, Batman, Ağrı, Hakkâri, Şırnak, Muş, Kars, Iğdır, or in a Kurdish neighbourhood in İstanbul, İzmir, Mersin, Adana, you’ll see that there’a at least one family member who was either arrested, or missing. Most of the time it’s even more than just one. There are thousands of families who are waiting either to hear from their loved ones, or waiting to receive the remains of their loved ones. Those loved ones are in some cases brothers, in some others, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts or lovers. The politics is supposed not to turn a blind eye on this reality. Reflecting on this reality and working on a solution is an ethical and political task, and this responsibility falls on politics and politicians.”
“There are deputies in our parliamentary group who lost their relatives, loved ones, friends. The democratic politics ought to be led by sentiments of fraternity, not hostility. The pain should lead to common sense, not revenge (…) The problem here is about lack of empathy and mutual respect. What Semra Güzel lived through and its consequences is a reflection of the Kurdish question.”
Güzel had earlier explained that the man in the photos were her fiancée who was later killed in a clash with the Turkish forces. The photos were taken before she was elected.
Güzel is most likely to face a court case.