A senior leader of the pro-Kurdish opposition People’s Democratic Party (HDP) is to be investigated by Turkish prosecutors.
Sezai Temelli, the HDP co-chair, is to be investigated on a charge of “disseminating terror propaganda” after he delivered a speech during electioneering in the eastern province of Tunceli, according to a Tuesday news report by the state-owned news agency, Anadolu.
Being an MP, the Tunceli Prosecutor’s Office ruled the decision of non-jurisdiction and referred the case to the Ankara Prosecutor’s Office, since Ankara is responsible for lifting the immunities of MPs.
According to the statement by the Tunceli Prosecutor’s Office, the investigation is due to Temelli’s speech, while presenting HDP mayoral candidates for local elections.
Turkey will hold local elections on March 31.
Temelli also faces another terror-related investigation due to a speech delivered in the eastern province of Van on December 19, 2018. The HDP co-leader was accused of praising Abdullah Ocalan, jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union.
PKK has waged an insurgency against Turkey, seeking initially independence and lately autonomy for the Kurdish minority in the country since the early 1980s.
Temelli may join other MPs languishing in jail
The Turkish government accuses the HDP of links with PKK.
The investigation into Temelli is not a rare instance of an MP being pursued on terror charges in Turkey. If found guilty, Temelli may face lifting of immunity as a member of parliament and be sentenced to jail, as in the case of Selahattin Demirtas, former co-leader of HDP, who was jailed in 2016. Similarly, eight other HDP MPs are still behind bars on several terror-related charges.
Main opposition MP also investigated
On March 12, 2019, the Ankara Prosecutor’s Office also launched an investigation into an MP of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Aysu Bankoglu, over charges of “disseminating terror propaganda” and “praise of violence.”