The Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) is set to address the contentious issue of travel restrictions placed on members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP). Party officials subjected to restrictions include the co-chair, the spokesperson, the parliamentary deputy speaker, and the chief administrator.
A crucial meeting involving Speaker Numan Kurtulmuş and Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya from the Erdoğan-led ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been scheduled to seek a resolution to this matter.
Currently, 20 HEDEP deputies in the TBMM are under a travel embargo. While court orders justify the restrictions for 11 of these members, the remaining nine face bans without any legal judgements against them, a situation attributed to administrative decisions made by the Interior Ministry.
Prominent figures impacted by these restrictions include HEDEP Co-Chair Tuncer Bakırhan, Deputy Speaker Sırrı Süreyya Önder, Chief Administrator Salihe Aydeniz, and party spokeswoman Ayşegül Doğan.
In a statement to the general assembly, Önder criticised the practice of imposing travel restrictions on elected deputies without judicial orders. He described this as an encroachment upon the authority of the Parliament by the Interior Ministry and potentially the Presidency. He stressed the urgency for an effective response to this issue, questioning, “Who has the authority to impose such restrictions on elected parliamentarians without a court decision?”
The travel ban, seen as a hindrance to the deputies’ ability to perform their duties, prompted Önder to organise a meeting with deputy group leaders from all political parties. It is reported that representatives, including those from the ruling party, concurred that the ban was unjust and unlawful. The meeting concluded with a consensus to approach Speaker Kurtulmuş and Interior Minister Yerlikaya to resolve the issue. It is understood that deputies from the ruling party will also highlight this concern.
The issue gained prominence when Deputy Speaker Önder, during a parliamentary session, expressed frustration over being unable to join a delegation to Palestine due to the travel ban. Önder pointed to the parallel case of HEDEP member Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, who had been unable to to join an official visit to Azerbaijan due to the travel ban.
“We can send soldiers to Azerbaijan, but we can’t send a deputy,” Önder said, condemning the contradictory state policies.
“Speaker Numan Kurtulmuş will be visiting Azerbaijan soon for a TÜRKPA meeting. He invited Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu from our party, but he is one of the deputies under the travel ban. I wish we could channel our enthusiasm for sending soldiers [to Azerbaijan], into sending our deputies there as well.”