Turkey incarcerates three opposition MPs stripped of parliamentary immunity

Three opposition politicians stripped of their parliamentary seats have been detained and sent to jail.

A prosecutor in Turkey’s majority-Kurdish southeastern Diyarbakır province had issued arrest warrants for two Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputies on Thursday night, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Pro-Kurdish HDP’s former Hakkari deputy Leyla Güven and former Diyarbakır deputy Musa Farisoğulları were stripped of their seats in a parliamentary session earlier in the day based on finalised court orders over terrorism charges.

Farisoğulları was detained by the police on his way from Diyarbakır to the capital Ankara shortly after the warrant was issued. About an hour later, Güven was taken into custody from her home.

The third deputy stripped of his seat, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) member Enis Berberoğlu, was detained an hour after Güven. Berberoğlu had announced earlier that he would be going to the court house early Friday morning of his own volition.

"Why such tyranny for a person who would go to the prosecutor's office himself tomorrow?" tweeted CHP deputy Tuncay Özkan as he announced Berberoğlu's detention.

In 2017, Berberoğlu was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his part in revealing to the public images that appeared to show Turkish intelligence services shipping weapons to Syrian rebels. His sentence was later reduced to five years.

Berberoğlu, who was a deputy in the previous term as well, was released some months after his re-election in 2018. Turkey’s Court of Cassation ruled to suspend his sentence until the end of his term in parliament, which under normal circumstances would have come in 2023.

Leyla Güven was convicted to six years and three months in prison for membership of a terrorist organisation over her attendance to a press conference protesting Turkey’s 2018 Operation Olive Branch into Kurdish-held northern Syrian province of Afrin, and memorial services for members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The indictment against Güven also mentioned her 200-day hunger strike protesting prison conditions for political prisoners and jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who had been held in isolation without contact with his family or lawyers for eight years at the time.

Musa Farisoğulları was convicted to nine years in prison for the same charges, over his alleged attendance to funerals of two PKK members in 2018, as well as a condolence visit to another PKK member’s family. One of the funerals was for Mehmet Yakışır, who directed PKK activity in northern Turkey and was responsible for the death of a 15 year-old boy according to Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.

Meanwhile, Cemile Eminoğlu, the Mayor of Bismil, a town within the southeastern Diyarbakir province also detained on Thursday, herself notified it over a tweet post. Eminoğlu was replaced by the government trustee in October, 2019.