Seven HDP deputies face criminal charges

Seven members of parliament from Turkey’s Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have been hit with a list of criminal indictments which includes terror charges, the Turkish news site Diken reports.

The charges include “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organisation”, “publicly insulting the Turkish nation, military and security forces”, “praising crime and criminals”, and “insulting the president”.

The HDP has been under tremendous pressure since it became the first predominantly Kurdish political party to break the ten percent electoral threshold and enter Turkey’s parliament in June 2015, narrowly defending its presence in parliament during the snap elections later that year.

A resurgence of violence between Turkish armed forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in July that year led to a crackdown on HDP politicians, many of whom are accused by the government of being linked to the PKK, which has a long history of conflict with Turkish armed forces since it started an insurgency in the 1980s.

The indictment against the seven MPs accuses them of praising the jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and attending the funerals of PKK members, besides the terrorism propaganda charge.

The indicted HDP deputies are Ziya Pir, Leyla Birlik, Nadir Yıldırım, Feleknas Uca, Ahmet Yıldırım, Ertuğrul Kürkçü and Alican Önlü.

The Turkish parliament voted to lift immunities from prosecution from members of parliament in May 2016, leading to the arrest of a number of them, including former party co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ.