Turkey’s parliament has stripped one of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party’s two leaders of her status as an MP and jailed the other.
The move comes just a few weeks before a referendum on extending the president’s powers
Figen Yügsekdag has been in detention on terrorism charges since November after being arrested with co-leader Selahattin Demirtas who on Tuesday was sentenced to five months in jail.
Kurdish HDP leader kicked out of #Turkish parliament https://t.co/TIFfttQBEf via
AlMonitor</a> :(:(:( <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Turkey?src=hash">#Turkey</a></p>— Emre Deliveli (EmreDeliveli) February 21, 2017
It leaves the second-largest opposition party leaderless before Turks vote on replacing Turkey’s parliamentary system with an executive presidency.
“They can ban as many MPs as they want, HDP will still get stronger. This should be known. I used to vote for the ruling AK Party. But I saw how much they look down on Kurds. I will never vote for them again,” said one Kurdish resident.
Demirtas and the HDP oppose the changes which they say will lead to a one-man rule and erode basic freedoms. It could also mean President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could stay in power until 2029. The party has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights over the imprisonment of one of its leaders.
The government says the HDP is an affiliate of the militant PKK which it says is a terrorist organisation waging an insurgency in Turkey’s Kurdish southwest.
Erdogan and his supporters want the changes to Turkey’s political system claiming it will give the country stronger leadership.