The Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) sent a delegation to meet with Turkish parliament speaker (and former prime minister) Binali Yildirim this week to discuss the imprisonment of two Ministers of Parliament that represent the HDP. The two ministers, Leyla Guven and Enis Berberoglu, were jailed for terrorism-related charges despite having parliamentary immunity.
The HDP released a post-meeting statement that read, “We emphasized that the parliament is an important place, especially regarding [parliamentary] immunity, and two deputies from Hakkari, Leyla Guven, and Enis Berberoglu, who are still in jail.” Binali Yildirim’s office did not release any specifics about the exchange other than claiming it was held “out of the eyes of media.” The HDP said that the interaction between the two parties was “a visit of courtesy.”
Binali Yildirim is a ranking member within the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), a political group that has a long-standing negative disposition towards the HDP. The HDP has alleged ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is identified as a terrorist group in Turkey and that has been combating Turkish expansion and oppression against Kurdish people for a long time.
Leyla Guven, who is the Democratic Society Congress’s (DTK) co-chair, was arrested in January 2018 under charges of “propagating for a terror organization,” according to the official records. The arrest came directly after she expressed her parties condemnation towards the Turkish military’s Operation Olive Branch in northern Syria, an operation that overtook the once Kurdish city of Afrin and its surrounding territory. Guven ran for a seat in parliament from prison this year and was elected to represent the HDP despite her present situation. Enis Berberoglu was a journalist who has been dealt espionage charges for allegedly providing footage, of Turkish intelligence agency MIT members running guns into Syria for proxy militias, an opposition party based news outlet. Berberoglu earned a seat in parliament this June as well when he was nominated by the Republican People’s Party (CHP).
Featured image: Fireworks explode above election banners of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, or HDP, in the mainly-Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, southeastern Turkey, Sunday, June 24, 2018. Partial results show the pro-Kurdish party has passed a critical electoral threshold to enter the Turkish parliament, risking the ruling party’s majority. | AP Photo/Emre Tazegul