[email protected]

December 03, 2012, Monday

Controversial issue of immunity

The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government seems to be determined to remove the parliamentary immunity of 10 pro-Kurdish deputies who are accused of having links with a terrorist organization.

There is a difference of opinion among Turkish columnists, with some claiming that the deputies that openly support terrorism have no place in Parliament and some arguing that removing the deputies’ immunity and trying them will complicate the state of the country’s Kurdish issue and, moreover, offend Kurdish citizens.

Bugün’s Gültekin Avcı argues that the deputies should be brought before a judge because a recent video showing Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies hugging terrorists was the last straw and that he no longer doubts their links to one another. Avcı pointed to Article 17 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which declares that no one may use the rights guaranteed by the convention to seek the abolishment or limitation of rights guaranteed in the convention. According to this article, individuals cannot rely on a human right to undermine other human rights. However, this is exactly what the BDP deputies are doing. The issue of removing the BDP deputies’ immunity is a belated one and it should be undertaken at once, he argues.

On the other hand, Vatan’s Okay Gönensin says it is worth considering that even some ruling AK Party deputies are reacting against the plan. Also, this move will surely prove right those who claim that the AK Party gave up its aim of resolving the Kurdish question via democratic means as reflected in the party’s “democratic initiative.” It has long been argued that the party has returned to old pro-operational policy and given up launching further democratic initiatives for its Kurdish citizens. This claim is not right altogether, as the recent counterterrorism operations and immunity removal plan have surely cast a shadow over some recent significant reforms, such as allowing people to testify in Kurdish in courts and having Kurdish translators in parliamentary commissions. The government has not yet blocked the political path to solve the Kurdish question. But if the deputies’ immunity is lifted, it will be largely thought to have done so, he asserts.

Previous articles of the columnist