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MERVE BÜŞRA ÖZTÜRK

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MERVE BÜŞRA ÖZTÜRK
December 06, 2012, Thursday

Warnings on immunity issue

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s firm stance on a government plan to divest the parliamentary immunities of several Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies, who are accused of being related to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has recently resulted in much controversy among columnists as well as politicians.

Star’s Sedat Laçiner in his article argues that the rules do not change based on the person. If you avoid executing a law out of political or other reasons, you will end up encouraging others to commit the same crime and leading people to lose respect for the law. In this sense, no one, including deputies, has the privilege of being allowed to commit a crime in democracies. Laçiner then focuses on the BDP, saying that Turkey in fact considers the BDP an offshoot of the PKK but still allows the BDP to be in Parliament to discuss the Kurdish issue and the democratic rights which the Kurds are demanding for the sake of ending terrorism in the country. However, once the BDP takes its sympathy of the PKK to a level where it approves of the PKK’s bloody attacks, it is assisting the PKK with its attacks and loses its legitimacy in the public’s eyes.

That said, the claims that the government is trying to lift the BDP deputies’ immunities just because they are Kurds are wrong. Laçiner also notes that how you execute a decision is as important as whether that decision is correct or not. If you execute the best decision in a clumsy manner, you will end up with a disaster. In this sense, it is important not to repeat the same mistake we saw in the past, when deputies were removed from Parliament by force and embarrassed before everyone.

Hürriyet’s Taha Akyol, on the other hand, agrees that lifting their immunities is in line with the law but it is also a political choice, he claims, and suggests that this is why we should ponder more about whether it will do any good or result in further harm. He asserts that the move will offend the BDP’s 2.5 million voters, making them feel like they do not belong in Parliament.

Milliyet’s Fikret Bila has suggestions to avoid causing more controversy. He believes that immunities should only apply to deputies’ speeches delivered in Parliament. His second suggestion is that the deputies should be tried pending trial no matter what.

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