Kurdish Friendship group – Press conference at the EP

A press conference, organized by Marie-Christine Vergiat, MEP for the European United Left /Nordic Green Group and Chair of the Kurdish Friendship Group in the European Parliament concerning the collective strip of the immunity of 138 parliamentarians of the Great Assembly of Turkey took place this morning in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Among the speakers were Bodil Valero from the Greens / European Free Alliance Group and co-president of the Kurdish Friendship Group, Ana Gomes from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the EP and Mr Doru Eyyup, representative of the Peoples’ Democratic Party in Europe.

Vergiat began the press conference by referring to the blatant denial of democracy in Turkey and to the current situation of civil war, at a time she said, when the peace process had started between the Turkish government and the leader of the PKK, before the process was suddenly interrupted in April 2015, while the elections in June 2015 were prepared. Vegiat drew a parallel with the situation in the Kurdish region of Turkey where State’s attacks have resulted in thousands of deaths, most of them civilians.

Vergiat denounced the adoption of the law that allows the lifting of the parliamentary immunity of MPs by suspending Article 83 of the constitution, legislation designed in theory for parliamentarians from all groups but that in practice specifically targets 53 of the 59 members of the HDP’s party.

The MP also raised concern on the signing of the constitutional amendment on Tuesday by the president, warning its promulgation in Turkey will be as soon as possible used against members of HDP.

The co-president of the Kurdish friendship group Bodil Valero valued for her part the role of the HDP not only as a party representing minority rights but also as a pro-ecology party and stressed that the European Parliament was highly critical of what was happening in Turkey. She also described Turkey as a democratic countrie that was however headed by a non-democratic president.

The third speaker, MEP and member of the Kurdish Friendship Group Ana Gomes began her speech by stating that she had taken the initiative of the letter signed by more than 100 parliamentarians which demands the PKK to be removed from the terrorist list of the European Union. Gomes mentioned that one of the reasons for this initiative was that she strongly held to the peace process, also claiming that the only solution was a democratic Turkey who knew how to live with its minorities. She also added that the situation in the country in general was already more than worrying but that the recent decision to remove parliamentary immunity was absolutely inconceivable.

She added the EU could not ignore this tragical situation which is occuring in violation of the Copenhagen criteria, saying that the repression suffered by academics and journalists for denouncing the actions of the AKP was inadmissible, and underlined the obsession of Erdogan to crush the Kurdish movement not only in Turkey but also in Syria. The MEP concluded by saying she was critical about the visa liberalization policies in exhange for the management of migrants and finally reiterated her position on the stripping of immunity, calling the move “medieval”.

The representative of the HDP in Europe Eyyup Doru concluded the press conference by drawing attention to the fact that the decree validating the lifting of immunity was voted yesterday, June 7, which coincided with the date the HDP  entered the Parliament as a political group, which had meant the loss of an absolute majority of the AKP in parliament. He explained that unprecedented violations of human rights began then and had continued until the first of November elections, during which, despite fierce crackdown, hundreds of people killed, and joint actions with members of Daesh, and preventing it clearly from leading a normal campaign, the party still won 11% of votes.

Erdogan, according to Doru, is acting in retaliation for these events and has set up all the necessary steps to coordinate the justice away from politics to justify all the crimes against humanity that have occurred until now and are still occurring in the towns of Sirnak, Cizre, Sur, Nusaybin, where hundreds of civilians have been killed so far.

He also insisted that despite several requests for investigations by the Commissions of Human Rights of the United Nations, no possibility of investigation has been granted nor even access to devastated areas.

Doru also stressed that Erdogan was trying to change the law to ensure the forces of the state not to be tried for war crimes, without the permission of the Prime Minister. This law, if voted, will therefore guarantee the most complete immunity to those who perpetrate the massacres against civilian population. Doru also described the attacks by state as a military coup in the region and condemned the current attempts to move cities.

He also remembered the status of Turkey as a candidate country to the EU, as a member of the Council of Europe and as a member of NATO, stressing his concern about the lack of criticism from European states. He said he was very worried that the observer delegations have not been able to go on the scenes.

The press conference ended with the confirmation of the sponsorship proposal already discussed in the EP in Brussels a few days ago, in which prosecuted members of the HDP would be sponsored by a member of the European Parliament who will be monitoring each prosecuted deputy case-by-case. This kind of initiative had been formerly realized in the European Parliament.