With the trial of 151 Kurdish politicians, lawyers, human rights activists, and others ongoing in Diyarbakır, Ahmet Türk and Aysel Tuğluk, former head and deputy, respectively, of the banned pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP), petitioned Parliament on Tuesday to demand the restoration of their membership in the legislature.
The Turkish Constitutional Court shut down the DTP in December 2009 and prohibited both Türk and Tuğluk from re-entering politics for five years.
So why are they petitioning to get reinstated in parliament?
It goes back to last month’s referendum on the constitution. One article included in the amendment package—the 84th article of the Constitution—now states that deputies whose political party is closed down will be able to continue to participate in politics. The court will not be able to dismiss them from their positions as parliamentary representatives.
Hasip Kaplan, Şırnak deputy of the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party), took the case of two dismissed representatives to the Parliament, asking that they be reinstated as parliamentary deputies. He said that he thinks that ‘the return of their rights will strengthen democratic politics.’ The petition to reinstate Türk and Tuğluk was presented to Mehmet Ali Şahin, speaker of the parliament.
Hikmet Sami Türk, a former justice minister, agrees that the petitions of Türk and Tuğluk need to be accepted and that their membership in Parliament be restored. The parliamentary term for which the two former deputies were elected has not yet ended, and thus they need to re-obtain their titles as deputies, said the former justice minister.
The petition will now be sent to the Parliament’s Justice Commission for evaluation. AK Party deputy from Istanbul, Burhan Kuzu heads the commission and refused to comment on the submission of the petition. Kuzu has also been tapped to begin drafting a new constitution for the country.
However, there will resistance to the request. Constitutional law expert Ergun Özbudun, does not agree with Kaplan or others in favour of restoring their membership in parliament. He said newly passed laws could not be applied retroactively. ‘A law or a constitutional amendment cannot be applied to what happened in the past unless they indicate the contrary,’ he said.
Indeed, it would be surprising if the Justice Commission ruled in favour of the petition.
Türk, Tuğluk seek to restore Parliament membership. Today’s Zaman, 27 October 2010.
BDP brings banned representatives’ case to Turkish Parliament. Hürriyet Daily News, 26 October 2010.