Turkish police are searching for former DTP deputies Aysel Tuğluk, Ahmet Türk, Selahattin Demirtaş and Emine Ayna after they failed to appear in court. They staged a raid at the BDP headquarters in Ankara this morning looking for the four. Officers left the premises after fifteen minutes without locating them. The four face charges of promoting the PKK.
Charges against former DTP head, Ahmet Türk, stem from statements he made after a meeting with former members of the closed DTP, Democratic Society Party.
The investigation launched by the ‘Bureau on Media Crimes’ will be conducted in the context of charges pursuant to Article 215 ‘praising the crime and the criminal’, and Article 216 ‘inciting hatred and hostility’ of the Turkish penal codes.
Türk had announced at that meeting that ‘the intellectuals, authors, academics have presented a case for being in the parliamentary system. On Wednesday, Mr Öcalan met with his lawyers. We have been told that at this meeting Mr Öcalan expressed to his lawyers the need to stay in the Parliamentary system to continue their with fight.’
Former DTP deputy Aysel Tuğluk was sentenced in October of 2009 to 18 months in jail for ‘spreading the propaganda of a terrorist organisation’ in remarks favouring the PKK in a speech made at a rally in Diyarbakır in 2006. In the speech, made before she was elected to parliament, Tuğluk praised a declaration signed by tens of thousands of Kurds upholding Öcalan as their leader.
Tuğluk faces several other charges and could receive up to a 50-year sentence if convicted of all charges.
Türk and Tuğluk were removed from Parliament and banned from participating in politics for the next five years by the Turkish Constitutional Court on 11 December 2009. But according to CNNTürk, as the verdict has not yet been published in the Official Gazette, the former deputies technically still enjoy immunity from prosecution and questioning.
Demirtaş and Ayna are still sitting deputies and therefore have immunity from prosecution.
The four members are refusing to make a deposition, saying that, as deputies, they had parliamentary immunity and therefore could not be judged.
The court, however, said the former DTP members were accused of being involved in separatist activities, which made it impossible for the deputies to exercise their right to immunity from prosecution under Article 14 of the Turkish Constitution.
Commenting on the court decision Tuesday, Türk said, ‘The decision is against the law. We have not testified so far to highlight this illegal situation. We will go to the court and testify, when the time is right. And we believe the decision for them [Demirtaş and Ayna] is against the law.’
News of the warrants for the four deputies comes on the heels of last week’s raids by the security forces around the country against the KCK, or Kurdish Democratic Council (Koma Civakên Kurdistan), an umbrella organisation which includes the PKK. More than 80 former DTP members, mayors, and human rights activists were detained. Many have been released, but the massive arrests have led to more outbreaks of violence in the streets. A Diyarbakır court is still holding 23 people in detention of the 35 detained on 24 December.
Turkish court orders Kurdish lawmakers to be forcibly brought to trial. Hürriyet Daily News, 29 December 2009.
Ankara Republican Prosecutor opens an investigation on Ahmet Türk. Turkish Press.com, 22 December 2009.
Kurdish Politicians Kept in Detention. Bianet, 28 December 2009.