Turkish prosecutors seek to lift immunity of 9 Kurdish lawmakers – report

Turkish prosecutors will seek to lift the parliamentary immunity of nine lawmakers of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), including its co-leader Pervin Buldan, news website Bianet reported on Monday.

The request will be made by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s office, which will cite the deputies’ alleged illegal involvement in the “Kobane protests” of 2014, Bianet said.

In September 2014, Kurds held large-scale demonstrations against a Turkish military intervention in Syria that targeted the border town of Kobane, otherwise known as Afrin. The town was a stronghold of Western-backed Kurdish militias battling an offensive by the Islamic State (ISIS). More than 40 people died in the protests, most of them Kurds.   

On Jan. 7, a court accepted an indictment against those allegedly involved in the protest. More than 100 people, mostly members of the HDP, are facing life sentences on charges of orchestrating the event and supporting terrorism.

The indictment is part of a government-backed crackdown against the HDP on allegations that its members support the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for political autonomy for Turkey’s large Kurdish minority for more than four decades.

The government says that Kurdish militia in Syria are indistinguishable from the PKK, which is labelled a terrorist group by the United States and European Union.

Sezai Temelli, one of the HDP lawmakers whose immunity is threatened, said the protests turned violent after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Kobane was about to fall, according to Bianet.  

"ISIS was at the Mürşit Border crossing in September 2014, it was carrying out a massacre. One of the most important places where ISIS was stopped was Kobane," Temelli said.