Legislative immunity of HDP MP Semra Güzel lifted

The legislative immunity of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Diyarbakır MP Semra Güzel has been lifted in a vote taken at the General Assembly of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM).

Before the vote was taken at the General Assembly yesterday (March 1), the HDP MPs protested at the garden of the Parliament.

The Parliamentary Joint Commission on Constitution and Justice previously prepared a report on the two summaries of proceedings against HDP’s Güzel and concluded by a majority of votes that she should be stripped of her immunity. This decision was debated at the General Assembly, which was also attended by HDP Co-Chairs Pervin Buldan and Mithat Sancar.

Defense on behalf of Semra Güzel

HDP Parliamentary Group Deputy Chair Saruhan Oluç made defense on behalf of HDP Diyarbakır MP Semra Güzel at the General Assembly.

Referring to Kurdish women parliamentarians in Turkey over the years such as Leyla Zana, Aysel Tuğluk, Gültan Kışanak, Sebahat Tuncel and Gülser Yıldırım, HDP’s Oluç said, “Your grudge and rage – let me exclude the ones here – against Kurdish women politicians have not ended.”

Noting that “both an hostility against Kurds and a male-dominated mentality is the case”, Oluç referred to the continued imprisonment of the Kurdish women politicians in this context and argued:

“You are troubled with this: You cannot tolerate the ones who set an example to Kurdish women with their struggle; you cannot tolerate the ones who pioneer them to leave the house and participate in daily life. Because there has emerged a highly wide and dynamic Kurdish women’s movement. They say, ‘Woman, life, freedom…’ with the expression ‘Jin, jiyan, azadi…’ [Kurdish; not taken down in the minutes]. You cannot tolerate this. The treatment of Semra Güzel stems from this trouble as well.”

‘You will need immunity, too’

Further in his defense, Oluç said, “She went to school, was emancipated, became a doctor, entered politics, went from village to village… Send her to jail. This is what Kurdish question is, we are trying to tell this. There is no law; the Constitution is being trampled upon.”

Stressing that “the objective of legislative immunity is to protect MPs from arbitrary and baseless penal prosecutions and arrests”, HDP’s Saruhan Oluç said, “You will trample upon this by a majority of votes. But, one day, you will also need these articles of legislative immunity.”

Concluding his remarks, Oluç said, “In the eyes of the Kurdish people, lifting the immunity of Semra Güzel means disregarding their will. It is for political purposes and related to the government’s survival.”

Addressing the opposition, he added, “The opposition needs to see this well, too. This is a plot unfolding in the person of Semra Güzel. Every vote cast to lift the immunity means supporting this plot and approving the putschist and repressive politics and mindset against democratic politics.”

HDP left the General Assembly hall

Following the defense, the MPs took the vote and they decided to lift the legislative immunity of Semra Güzel by a majority of votes. While 379 MPs voted, 327 voted in favor and 52 against. Criticizing the decision, HDP MPs left the General Assembly hall by applauding in protest.

With her legislative immunity lifted, the file against Semra Güzel will be sent to the Justice Ministry. After the Ministry sends the file to the prosecutor’s office, it will make way for the judicial process.

What happened?

The pictures of HDP Diyarbakır MP Semra Güzel with Volkan Bora, who was killed in an airstrike of the Turkish Armed Forces in 2017, have recently been revealed. Semra Güzel has said that Bora was his “fiance” and the picture was “taken during the resolution process”.

After the pictures were published and broadcasted by pro-government media outlets, AKP Chair and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, “We have swiftly sent this to the joint commission. The necessary will be done. We don’t want to see such people at the Parliament.”

Saying that she was not affiliated with any political party when the pictures were taken, Güzel has asked why no investigation has been launched so far into the pictures found on Volkan Bora. She has argued that the pictures taken 5 years ago are used as a “plot” against her.

A summary of proceedings has been issued against Güzel to lift her legislative immunity and sent to the Joint Parliamentary Commission.

Before the Joint Commission convened on January 20, 2022, İYİ Party Chair Meral Akşener and main opposition CHP Parliamentary Group Deputy Chair Özgür Özel announced that they would vote in favor of the summary of proceedings against Semra Güzel.

The Drafting Commission, a sub-commission of the Parliamentary Joint Commission established to review the summaries of proceedings against Semra Güzel, has issued a report and expressed an opinion in favor of lifting the legislative immunity of the HDP MP.

Source: Bianet