BDP uses card of charter in immunity row

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News – 5.9.2012 – A parliamentary move aimed at lifting the parliamentary immunity of nine Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies would oblige the party to leave the commission tasked with drafting a new constitution, a party official has said.

“Opening a discussion about parliamentary immunity at a moment when [the Constitutional Conciliation Commission] is writing the new constitution is unacceptable with regard to political ethics,” Meral Danış Beştaş, a deputy leader of the BDP who is responsible for the party’s legal affairs, told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday. The party is still committed to the process, but could reconsider its position, if the other parties proceed with lifting the BDP lawmakers’ immunity.

The Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) suggestion to limit the immunity of some BDP lawmakers whom they accuse of openly promoting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) terrorist acts has gained support from the Justice and Development Party (AKP). The move came after BDP deputy leader Gültan Kışanak and some other BDP lawmakers were photographed hugging PKK members who were blocking a road near Şemdinli last month.“If they attempt to lift immunity of our deputy leader and deputies, then we may be obliged to make new decisions. But for today, we are not at the point of leaving the table,” Beştaş said. The Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission is composed of equal number of deputies from the four political parties.

Recent developments have pushed the three other parties to take a position against the BDP on the commission, according to another BDP official who asked to remain anonymous. “They are trying to isolate the BDP. The sincerity of the ongoing work at the commission will become controversial if the deputies’ immunity is lifted. Continuing the work of the commission would become impossible,” the BDP official said.

The party’s leadership is inclined to leave the commission in the event that the BDP lawmakers’ immunity is lifted, and it would also be taken as a sign of the government’s unwillingness to solve the Kurdish question, Beştaş said. “This is the reflection of the absence of will to solve the problem. Dissolving political parties, lifting the immunity of lawmakers, and arresting deputies has not worked in the past,” she said. “Five BDP lawmakers are already in jail. They [the government] want to close the BDP and ban it.”