Oppose the lifting of immunity of HDP deputies

The decision that is about to be taken by Turkey to lift the immunity of deputies (MPs) belonging to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) will be a totally lamentable move and should be opposed in the most unambiguous terms.

This long threatened action proposed by the ruling AKP government and approved by the constitutional committee of the Turkish parliament bodes ill for the future political stability of the country.

A decision is now scheduled to be taken at a plenary session of the country’s parliament on 16 June 2016. If the immunity is lifted the majority of the HDP MPs will face jail.

Such a flagrant abuse of power amounts to a gross attack on Kurdish political rights and can only alienate the Kurds further from Turkish politics by demonstrating to them that the system is totally stacked against them.

It will also be a huge slap in the face for everyone who has advocated a resolution to the Kurdish conflict by peaceful democratic means whether they are inside Turkey or internationally.

It will only be interpreted by the Kurdish people as a signal that their legitimate aspirations for greater rights and freedoms cannot be achieved via the political process. This will inflict a further blow on prospects for peace.

The HDP deputies are deeply respected individuals and the party has played a critical strategic role in the political dialogue with the Kurds that was abandoned by President Erdogan and the AKP. This abandonment of the peace process was a great mistake and the lifting of immunity, with a view to prosecution of HDP MPs, can only compound that mistake.

It will be another very sad day for democracy in Turkey if the courageous and talented HDP team are prevented from representing the people who elected them by being barred from politics and possibly jailed.

What true friends of the Turkish people should be doing now in response is urging the country’s leaders to reopen a dialogue with the Kurds since this offered a real hope of a genuine lasting solution which would be fair to all parties.

Turkey seems to be about to take another big step backwards by taking this decision on lifting immunity. The only appropriate reaction must be to redouble efforts to make Turkey’s leaders think again and resume the search for a negotiated settlement through talking to those political leaders most trusted by the Kurds. The HDP, as demonstrated by their electoral success, are such people who undoubtedly have the confidence of the Kurdish people and as such they offer a way out of the morass created largely by the short-sighted and vindictive strategy pursued with increasing vehemence by the AKP which appear to want a total victory against the Kurds.

A victory through humiliation of an entire people will be a hollow one and in fact it is surely bound to fail; but it is also a course of action that will create immense suffering added to the suffering already inflicted. Ultimately, this is a very weak strategy that will damage Turkey irreparably and destabilise the country.

We reiterate our firm belief that the HDP has always played a constructive role. The party’s deputies offer hope to the Kurds and, furthermore, they provide a real opportunity for peace. They pose no threat to Turkey in any way, shape or form. On the contrary, they are part of the solution for the country’s peaceful future.

The lifting of political immunity is a provocation and a totally retrograde action that needs to be revoked. Turkey must think again.


Noam Chomsky; Prof Biil Bowring, School of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London; Bruce Kent; Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley Lecturer of Political Sociology, Cambridge University; Baroness Helena Kennedy; Dr Nadje al-Ali, Professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS); David Morgan, journalist; Jonathan Bloch, author; Mark Thomas, journalist, comedian; Margaret Owen OBE, human rights lawyer; Tommy Sheppard MP; Hywel Williams MP; Lord Rea; Lord Dholakia; Simon Dubbins. UNITE International Director; Dave Prentis, General Secretary UNISON; Akif Wan, Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) UK; Erdelan Baran, KNK Foreign Affairs Committee, UK; Sait Akgul, civil engineer; Zinar Demeni, Kurdish political activist; Trevor Rawnsley Lecturer in Public Service Management City and Islington College London; Matt Foot, solicitor;  Sarah Parker, Haringey UNITY; Saleh Mamon, Educational Consultant; Prof Mary Davis; Nick Hildyard, policy adviser; John Hunt, journalist; Federico Venturini, researcher, School of Geography, University of Leeds; Stephen Lintott, Retired Mental Health Nurse and Unison; Arian Mufid, Editor, Kurdistan Tribune; Harem Karem, journalist; Penny Papadopoulou, Journalist; Bethany-Megan Robinson,Northern England; Dr. Amy L. Beam, human rights activist Iraq/Turkey; Dr Jan Best de Vries, journalist and teacher; Ali Manaz, journalist; Mehmet Ugur, Professor of Economics and Institutions, University of Greenwich Business School; Osman Suor, PhD student; Aguz Akan; Diako Salam; Circie Irina, interpreter; Shorish Shwani, civil engineer; Christopher Sawyer, MSHCA; William Miller, researcher; Daisy Miller, student; Azize Cay, independent researcher; Michelle Allison, KNK UK; Evrim Yilmaz, Kurdish activist; Cynthia Cockburn, writer; Mustafa Dogal; Melis Mustafa, Architectural Assistant; Serdar Macit, Self-employed; Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman, Kurdish Cultural Centre; Nuray Yilmaz, Laywer; Celal Zengin, Businessman; Evin Zengin, Caseworker; Esra Turk, Journalist; Aylin Kilik; Tania Parker; Hikmet Verten, Journalist; Elif Genc, PhD student; Ebru Cetindag, Accountant; Azize Cay, Independent researcher; John Guillen, Solicitor; Sinem Vurkaya, Chemical engineer; Ismail Akdogan; Ogur Akan; Eilis O’Connell; Sohila Naseri, Advisor, Kurdish Women’s Association; Rounak Behnam, Activist, Kurdish Women’s Association; Senda Oztarhan, Legal student; Belinda Perriman, Social entrepreneur; Elif Zarali, Tailor; Mustafa Dogen, Businessman; Serife Semsedini, Immigration advisor, HR; Mehmet Sucu, Boxing coach; Ali Koz, Businessman; Yagmur Savran, PhD candidate; Renas Yezdan, Civil engineer; Alain Hertzmann, Trade unionist, UNITE; Ismail Bulut, Biochemical scientist, Royal Brompton Hospital; Turkan Ozcan; Peter O’Kane; Jasmine Armstrong;  Lilia Gatenadze, Entrepreneur; Kenan Oget; Azad Dewani, Researcher of Peace Studies, Advocate of Human Rights.


Peace in Kurdistan
Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question
44 Ainger Road, London NW3 3AT
Email: <>
Contacts Estella Schmid 020 7586 5892 & Melanie Gingell – Tel: 020 7272 7890
Fax: 020 7263 0596

Patrons: Lord Rea, Lord Dholakia, Baroness Sarah Ludford, Jill Evans MEP, Jean Lambert MEP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Hywel Williams MP, Kate Osamor MP, Elfyn Llwyd, Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy, John Austin, Christine Blower, NUT General Secretary, Simon Dubbins. UNITE International Director, Bruce Kent, Gareth Peirce, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, John Berger, Edward Albee, Margaret Owen OBE, Prof Mary Davis, Mark Thomas, Nick Hildyard, Stephen Smellie, Derek Wall, Melanie Gingell